BALLYNAHINCH farrier, owner and handler, Victor Wilson supplied a shock result when he saddled ‘Mon Storm’ (25s to 16/1) to win the featured three mile conditions hurdle at Down Royal last Friday evening. The local horse was always in the leading quartet, but looked in trouble and hard ridden by Darragh O’Keefe before four out and as ‘Tullybeg’ looked the likely winner and the front-running favourite ‘Go Another One’ beaten, the local horse kept on strongly to lead at the last and power home.
Wilson, who has four horses in training, said: “He always runs rightly and he had run well here before. He should have won here in the spring time.”
O’Keefe added: “A bit of class helps. He had a good run last time. I think when he’s on song he’s a better horse than we think. He relishes the longer trip. Victor (Wilson) is easy to ride for, as he just says go out and enjoy yourself.”
Top jockey Bryan Cooper recorded an ultra easy winner on his sole mount at the meeting, when landing the opener on the Denise Foster trained ‘Realist’, despite the winner drifting from 7s to double that price at the start. The rider got a dream run up the inside from three out and, despite his mount showing a lack of experience over hurdles, claimed the opening juvenile hurdle from the always prominent and favourite ‘Bell Ex One’ (8s to 13/8).
Cooper said: “He has plenty of speed and he was very well schooled by Denise (Foster). I didn’t have much light, but it opened up down the straight. I’d say he has got a nice engine and showed plenty of gears. He’s one to look forward to. I gave him a pop on Wednesday of last week and he’ll improve. I’m at Downpatrick on Monday, as John Ryan tells me he will have a stack of runners.”
Champion jockey, Paul Townend combined with trainer, Jessica Harrington to claim the mares hurdle aboard the strongly supported favourite, ‘Mighty Meggsie’. The winner tracked the leader ‘Aubretia’ (finished third) until asserting after three from home and scored easily in a weak affair.
The winner is owned by Mrs Queally, who also bred the mare and previously owned the talented ‘Space Trucker’, which was placed in a champion hurdle. The trainer was recording a treble on the night with ‘Magical Lagoon’ winning and ‘Bopedro’ claiming the Irish Cambridgeshire at the Curragh.
Townend said: “It was a good performance. Her run in Tramore was her first one in a while and she probably came on from the run and enjoyed the better ground. She is settling much better this year than last year, when she was very keen. I’d say she is just growing up and learning the game.”
‘Kitty Galore’ attempted to make all in the handicap hurdle, only to be overhauled after the last by ‘Dazzling Darren’ (15/2 to 9/2) – the Gavin Cromwell trained winner having been third reserve. Conor Maxwell had the winner always handy in third behind the leader and improved prior to the final flight and quickened best when asked on the run in.
Maxwell said: “It was nice to come in for it and thankfully Gavin put me up on him. I had a bit of form with him before, we were placed a few times on the Flat. They went very hard – Liz Doyle’s horse (‘Feel Des Mottes’) and John Ryan’s horse (‘Kitty Galore’) went very hard in front and I thought going to the third last she (‘Kitty Galore’) might not stop, as she looked to still be travelling well. At the top of the hill, I then thought I would always get to her. I had to really roust him along to get there and he got there well enough. He’s tough. He won in Galway and on his run in Galway he was entitled to win that.”
The Karl Thornton trained, ‘Rich Belief’ (7s to 7/2) put his flat speed to good use in the closing stages of the four-year-old maiden hurdle, which was run at a much steadier pace than the previous race, when skipping clear after the final flight to prevail. The winner, with Donagh Myler in the saddle, was always handy in fifth position before challenging at the last and denying favourite ‘Skippin Court’.
Thornton said: “He probably wants that trip. I’d say the experience has definitely stood to him – dropping back from a handicap to a maiden. I don’t usually like doing that, but I thought it would be ideal around a big, galloping track with his experience. He’s only a small horse and it was the right option for him here today. There is a flat race here next week, which is an option.”
Thornton added regarding his stable star ‘Shanroe’, which finished a close fourth in the £500,000 Ebor last week, that the horse has a couple of options in Britain next week, but if it doesn’t rain “we’ll just sit on our hands”.
Multiple runners had chances in the closing stages of the handicap hurdle, but 50/1 shot ‘Motion In Limine’ burst through to catch the top weight ‘She’stherightone’ in the final hundred yards with Omagh jockey, Simon Torrens aboard the Willie Murphy trained horse.
Murphy said: “I hoped he would run well. He really wants quick ground – good, quick ground is key to him. His first run in a handicap we were a little bit worried, but Simon (Torrens) gave him a brilliant ride and that’s the way to ride him.”
The finale saw ‘Hi Stranger’, under a confident ride by teenager John Gleeson, produced late to assert in the final furlong having been held up in the rear for most of the race and the John Kiely trained winner could be above average after back to back victories.
Gleeson said: “She has travelled really well into the race, she settled lovely for me. I wanted to ride her wide to keep it uncomplicated and she has a really, really good turn of foot. John (Kiely) is a great man and without him I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. He has taught me everything and I am very grateful.”