Bell Of The Ball supplied a local success when backed from 12//1 to 8/1 at Downpatrick yesterday writes Joe Kavanagh.
The winner owned and trained by Newry-based Liam Lennon was partnered to victory by the very talented Rachael Blackmore. The rider took command at the top of the hill and having looked set for an easy success was all out to hold runner-up Pat’s Pearl at the line.
Liam Lennon said: “She’s had her wee issues. We have her in foal now to Court Cave. So I think probably that could be the turning point. I was using Rachael at the start before anybody knew her. She was always confident today. There’s only so much petrol in the tank – I turned away! [at finish]”
Sligo handler Mark Mc Niff was on fire at Downpatrick and Atlantic Breaker swept into the lead after the final flight to score in the opener. Market principals favourite, Sharp’s Choice and Great Khan headed affairs throughout and just as the last named gain the initiative at the last, Atlantic Breaker which had tracked the leaders was produced by Paddy Kennedy to score easily.
The favourite faded rapidly when headed – finishing fifth. Mark McNiff said: “He never runs a bad race. Everything that beats him goes on and wins. He was third here the last day. He hasn’t been that straightforward to ride, we tried a different bit on him the last couple of runs and they were his best two runs. There’s more control on him.”
The Sligo Maestro doubled up when Andratx bolted home to complete a hat trick in the handicap despite the massive hike in his ratings with Andrew Ring again in the saddle having partnered the horse to win in March at the venue. The winning trainer said: “He’s a grand little horse. The plan was to come here after Ballinrobe, which was a good while for a summer horse, so that worked out.
“Maybe we’ll go for a mile and a half at Galway on the Wednesday on the flat.”
Mc Niff became Master of Downpatrick when Ashjan completed a magnificent treble again powering home in the closing stages with amateur, Steven Kelly in the saddle. The winning rider was recording his second winner having won on Angus Milan at Down Royal last year.
Immortal Bridge trained by Joseph O’Brien carried the JP Mc Manus colours to victory in an incident packed maiden hurdle. The winner was all out to hold to locally trained. 50/1 chance Caerleon Kate by a nose. Winning jockey Mark Walsh said: “I didn’t think he had got there but his head was down at the right time.” However, Major Destination (third favourite) appeared to slip on landing after jumping the first flight and was soon pulled up.
“The same flight saw the strongly supported favourite, Harold Peto again appearing to slip and fall after jumping the hurdle on the final circuit. A similar incident occurred at the previous fixture when seven of eleven runners fell or slipped up on the bend out of the straight.
The Henry De Bromhead trained King Of Braga with Dylan Robinson aboard proved the comprehensive victor of the handicap hurdle as the Mullins trained favourite again disappointed only managing second. Trainer Henry de Bromhead is on holiday but friend Dylan Robinson said: “ He travelled and jumped well and galloped to the line.”
The John Kiely trained Decision Time with Katie Walsh aboard was the decisive winner of the concluding bumper with favourite, Blixt – a sister to Champion Hurricane Fly flopping finishing fourth supplying another disappointment for the Irish Champion trainer on the day.