DROMARA trainer, Caroline McCaldin supplied a local victory on St Patrick’s Day at Down Royal last Wednesday, when ‘Samurai Cracker’ ran out the convincing winner of the Novice Chase. The winner was supplying jockey, Richie Deegan with his first success since turning professional. Last for most of the race, ‘Samurai Cracker’ made steady progress in the closing stages to lead at the second last, where ‘He’s A Man Of His Word’ unseated his rider when beaten. The result was a family affair, with the winner owned by the trainer’s husband, Alan – physio to the Ulster Rugby squad.
Deegan said: “Yes, with the drop back in trip and the ground he was able to travel well into the race. Some of his best hunter chase runs were over two and a half. I was talking to John Barry (rider) before and he thought today would suit him.”
‘Some Man’, trained at Derrylin by David Christie, provided a double for local connections in the hunterchase. The winner, with Barry O’Neill aboard, made all and had the race in safe keeping on the downhill run as favourite, ‘Complete Sizing’ struggled and came under pressure. The winner, owned by Belfast businessman, Ray Nicholas, stretched clear on the run home.
Christie said: “All the time we have had him, we have never got him running on the ground he loves. He’s a very good horse, but at two and a half miles or two six miles, he is just different gravy to everything else. I’d nearly love to have a go at Aintree this year with him. We have to consider it. It warrants him getting an entry. Barry (O’Neill) got off him and said ‘I really enjoyed that, that has given me some buzz!’”
Denise Foster, who enjoyed her first taste of Cheltenham Festival success last week, also struck in the opening maiden hurdle with ‘Homme D’un Soir’. The winner, with Denis O’Regan aboard, was waiting just behind the leaders prior to the jockey switching wide on the downhill run – leading at the penultimate flight and out-gunning the hot favourite, ‘Pont Du Gard’ in the closing stages.
Stable representative, Ian Amond said: “He did it well and he has plenty of experience at this stage as well. The tongue-tie on obviously helped as well too. He’s got his head in front now and hopefully he will get a bit of confidence from it.”
O’Regan added: “I just took my time on him, as they went an honest gallop and he jumps well. His run at Punchestown was very good and a bit of dryer ground helped.”
Foster and O’Regan doubled up in the Novice Handicap Hurdle, when ‘Papal Lodge’ proved the convincing winner having been left clear when American horse, ‘Baltimore Bucko’ crashed out at the last. The winner sat second for most of the race prior to leading at the final flight. Disappointing favourite, ‘Shanroe’ was under strong pressure from three out.
O’Regan said: “He jumped well and travelled well. I would say he got confidence from his win in Punchestown and got away with the ground. Hard to know what would have happened at the last – it’s a possibility I could have got beaten, but you have to jump them.”
‘No Thanks’ (14s to 8/1) proved the facile winner of the conditional jockeys handicap hurdle for in-form trainer, Matthew Smith, with Dillion Maxwell in the saddle. The task was made easier when challenger ‘Wake The Giant’ ( 14s to 9/2) fell at the last.
Maxwell said: “He was a bit keen and a bit lairy of a horse, but we kind of knew that when he is out in front on the gallops. We put the hood on him in the box. When I was by myself, he was having a good look each side. He jumped them straight enough once I asked him to do it.”
The Tom Taaffe trained, ‘Goose Man’, with the trainer’s son Pat aboard, was the easy winner of the national trial over a marathon trip. The winner, in the rear for most, always travelled strongly and galloped into the lead two from home, only to idle on the run in to beat the locally trained, ‘Dorking Cock’.
Taaffe Senior said: “That’s very good for the Hays (owners). This fellow was in at Cheltenham yesterday, but I said ‘he’ll be placed in Cheltenham but he’ll win here’. I’m delighted for Pat – it is his first ride over fences. He has done loads of hunter trials and loads of schooling. It is good that he has that monkey off his back. He’s not in at Aintree, but he will be in Aintree next year, he’s that type of horse.”
Trainer, Arthur Moore seldom has runners in bumpers, but ‘Me Too Please’ with Northern Champion amateur, Noel McParlan in the saddle gave a game performance to claim the finale.
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