DERRYLIN trainer David Christie might not have got the result he wanted when ‘Vaucelet’ failed to fire in the Foxhunters at the Cheltenham Festival, but was on the scoreboard at Down Royal on St. Patrick’s Day, when ‘Ultimate Optimist’, partnered by Alex Harvey, despite a couple of novicey mistakes landed the hunterchase for the Fermanagh team. The local horse was the easy winner at the line on the testing ground and a definite boost for Christie, who has been in hospital for the past four weeks.
Racing got underway with a maiden hurdle and numerous leaders in the closing stages, however, it was the John Ryan trained ‘Western Commandor’, partnered by Liam Quinlan, that eventually prevailed by a half-length.
In contrast, the Adare Manor Hurdle was won in convincing style by the Julie Cashman trained ‘Thecornerhouse’ with Evan Dwan aboard, under a patient ride leading at the penultimate flight and very easily went clear.
The delight was obvious from the large collection of the Moyo’s Boys Syndicate, many attired for St Patrick’s Day, after ‘Ottoman Style’ won a very competitive novice hurdle. The winner, trained by Dermot McLoughlin with Conor Maxwell in the saddle, powered into the lead three from home and was never for catching afterwards.
‘Longhouse Poet’, trained by Martin Brassil, won a good renewal of what was previously a Grand National trial, when beating last year’s winner ‘Roi Mage’ and 2019 Irish Grand National winner filling third. The owner’s retained rider JJ Slevin, took his time prior to leading before the second last, after which he had the race in safe keeping.
‘Brassil’, who won the Aintree spectacular in 2006 with ‘Numbersixvalvarde’ said: “He needed to do that. JJ had a bit of a mishap with him in Fairyhouse in the Bobbyjo, so we wanted to get them to gel a bit more. It would be (important) when you are going around there (Aintree). He jumped great and handles the ground and it was lovely to see. You never know how much you have left with him, as he just only does enough. He ran a cracker for a long way in the Grand National. He probably over-raced himself, he was very fresh on the day – that’s why I wanted to get a race closer to the National into him, so he wouldn’t be too buzzed up.”
The Gordon Elliott trained ‘The Greek’, with Denis O’Regan aboard, gave a game effort to win the novice chase, beating the rallying ‘Chameron’ – the pair drawing well clear of rivals. Champion trainer Willie Mullins, having again been champion trainer at the Cheltenham Festival, also landed the concluding bumper at the Lisburn course with ‘Cuta Des As’, partnered by Pat Taaffe.
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