A non-runner proved the star of the show at Downpatrick on Saturday, when ‘Honeysuckle’ – unbeaten in her 16 races to date – made a surprise appearance to parade at the course for the race bearing her name and was reunited with her former trainer, Gerry Cosgrave and owner-rider, Mark O’Hare; the Banbridge pair having bought and produced the dual Cheltenham Champion Hurdle winner in her tally of success.
Course Manager Richard Lyttle, always forthcoming with novel ideas, organised for all the original local connections associated with the super mare to be presented with a Honeysuckle plant.
The Mick Winters trained ‘Inchidaly Copper’ gave a very game effort to make all and land the spoils in the Honeysuckle handicap restricted to amateur riders.
Winters said: “A lot of young horses take time to mature and he has matured into being a stayer and a galloper. We had him for the banks race and the young man (Andy Burke-Ott) broke his collarbone and he went back point-to-pointing. Andy is a good worker and a solid horseman – that’s his first track ride and first winner.”
The Willie Mullins trained ‘Dani Barcelona’ (7/1 to 9/2), having raced very keen, was allowed to hit the front four from home by Sean Cleary Farrell – supplying the young rider with his first winner in the opener. ‘Still Ciel’ and ‘Happy Dex’ fell on the flat on the downhill run.
Farrell said: “I’m over the moon! That was the only worry I really had coming out with her, in that she can be very keen. The plan was to race in behind Conor Maxwell on the first circuit. As soon as she hit the front, she settled a bit better, so I just let her go.”
‘Peckham Springs’ (16s to 13/2), having tracked the leaders, then led before the last before shooting clear under Paddy O’Hanlon – trained by Dermot McLoughlin – who said: “He did it well in first-time cheek pieces. I think that is the first time he has travelled. He would run in snatches and drop himself out when it suits him. Maybe the cheek pieces lit him up a bit.”
‘Tullyveery Lad’ and ‘Paddy’s Planet’ duelled at the head of affairs in the three-mile beginners chase and, when the last named fell at the penultimate fence, it was left to ‘Gateau De Miel’ and ‘Quantum Realm’ to battle out the finish, with the last named partnered by Shane Fitzgerald scoring for Gordon Elliott.
Stable representative Lisa O’Neill said: “He tends to enjoy those conditions, so hopefully we can find something similar maybe in handicap company.”
Elliott placed ‘Getaway Goldie’ (11/4 to 9/2) to perfection when running off bottom weight to claim the featured handicap chase. Waited with in the rear by jockey Conor McNamara for most of the race, prior to making rapid progress from four out, the mare led after the final fence and registered a snug success.
O’Neill said: “She seems to be progressing in the right direction, she’s after winning a handicap hurdle and a chase. She’s doing it really nicely and she’s a nice individual and hopefully she can keep going that direction.”
The Paul Flynn trained ‘Na Caith Tobac’, with Ben Kennedy in the saddle, turned the handicap chase into a procession when making all, while the Gerry Keane trained ‘Howaya CD And E’ with Joey Dunne aboard was another facile winner of the bumper, comprehensively beating favourite ‘What Path’.
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