‘SO Near So Farhh’, trained at Crossgar by Colin McBratney, was produced to perfection to win the mares handicap hurdle and supply a local success at Down Royal, being owned by Comber based James Murdoch. The winner made progress from three out and fought out the finish with ‘Reine Fee’ to score in a photo finish.
Winning jockey, Adam Short said: “I rode her in a schooling hurdle when Colin first got her and loved her. She has learnt a lot from her runs in maiden hurdles. Colin’s horses are coming back into form. I didn’t want to get there too soon and she winged the last two flights.”
McBratney added: “She’s a nice filly – she came from Mick Channons’ having won four on the flat. Adam gave her a smashing ride. I thought it might be a bit sharp for her. It will depend what the handicapper does where we go next.”
Down Royal survived an early morning inspection and the opener supplied a shock 100/1 winner. ‘Port Stanley’ looked set for possible success, however, a bad mistake at the final flight ended his claims and ‘Department Of War’, which made steady improvement downhill, capitalised on the error and was delivered to score by Kevin Brouder.
Winning trainer, David Dunne said: “He’s been working extremely well. I suppose you wanted a graded horse to win that race. He’s a very hardy horse – very professional. I saw him at the sales and thought he was gorgeous and bought him for £3,000. I haven’t thought beyond today, but he’ll only run on yielding to soft ground.”
Top jockey, Mark Walsh rode a waiting race on the Padraig Roche trained ‘Castle Oliver’ prior to producing the winner of the novice handicap chase at the final fence and out gunned ‘Diamond Turf’ on the run to the line.
Walsh said: “Hopefully he’ll continue to improve. When I gave him a squeeze, I thought he was going to get there easily, but he winged the last two fences. He won a bumper for Joseph [O’Brien] and perhaps the change of scenery has helped.”
The leading Irish owner doubled up when Omagh jockey, Simon Torrens gave the Niall Madden trained ‘Golden Sunset’ a polished ride to highlight his talents and win the handicap chase.
Torrens said: “It might not have been the best race on paper, but he stuck his head out where it mattered. I’m delighted with that. He wouldn’t be the quickest in the world, but he travelled okay – but it took a bit of work to get there.”
The Dermot McLoughlin trained, ‘Opposites Attract’ justified favouritism when recording back to back victories at the track with Conor Maxwell aboard.
McLoughlin said: “I knew from the last he would win when Conor got at him. I have just entered him for a few races at the Cheltenham Festival.”
The Gavin Cromwell trained, ‘Jurby’ registered a very easy victory in the handicap chase with stable jockey Jonathon Moore aboard. Moore said: “Gavin’s horses are all running well. We knew he stays all day and handles that ground. I knew if I could keep him travelling and jumping, he would have a chance. As soon as he got his head in front, he started winging fences.”
Racing concluded with another shock result, when 66/1 chance ‘Lady Heath’, trained by Lorna Fowler, flew home under Tom Love to claim the bumper.