THE Tote Hurdle supplied a thrilling finish and shock 33/1 result, but a local victory when the Stuart Crawford trained ‘Kingfisher Lane’ stayed on best in the closing stages to snatch success at Downpatrick on Friday evening. The Larne trained horse was only fourth before the final flight, but as another local runner ‘Willyouwalkwithme’ (9s to 9/2 favourite), which had rallied and looked a winner in a three-way all local finish, the Crawford horse with JJ Slevin aboard on the stands side prevailed.
Crawford said: “He’ll stay. We were a wee bit worried about the drop back in trip, he is probably a horse that wants to go over further, but it was a race that was here. He is a home-bred, so that is even sweeter.”
Crossgar trainer, Colin McBratney provided the second local winner of the night when ‘Journey West’ (25s to 6/1) claimed the Adare Manor Hurdle. ‘Strong Roots’ and ‘Tick Along’ went head to head at the front, but under a patient ride from Shane O’Callaghan, with the winner fitted with first time blinkers, made steady progress in the final mile to assert at the last and shot clear on the uphill finish.
McBratney said: “He had run in a couple of right good maiden hurdles in Navan and places and finished eighth and ninth. Shane (O’Callaghan) gave him a nice ride and was very quiet on him and let him creep away and creep away. He’s actually in at Punchestown on Tuesday and Wexford on Wednesday and, if he eats up and all goes well, he will turn up somewhere if it keeps raining.”
It was a poignant win for connections, with the horse being the last bought by Mrs Frances Savage prior to her passing and left to her daughter Isla Acheson, a well-known figure in show jumping circles.
Newry trainer, Liam Lennon supplied the third local success when ‘School Lane’ was ultra brave to win the handicap chase. Favourite ‘Follow The Crowd’ looked certain to score, having made steady progress and slipped up the inside between the last two fences to lead, however, the winner rallied to terrific effect under claiming rider, Thomas Reilly to get up close to home.
Reilly said: “He was very good now. Liam (Lennon) said not to get to the front too soon on him. His jumping was brilliant and all he was doing was staying on up the hill. I think that is seven winners now.”
The David Christie trained ‘Handy Headon’ (5/2 to 6/4) with Ben Harvey aboard, supplied the fourth local winner on the card. The winner was able to canter home, having made all the running, but left 20 lengths clear when favourite ‘Er Dancer’ attempted to challenge but fell four from home.
The Derrylin handler was winning the race for the second successive year, following victory with ‘On The Sod’ last year and said: “He’s brilliant (at jumping). Ben said coming in that he is a different horse on good ground and that was too soft for him. He didn’t run until he was a seven-year-old and then, with Covid and everything else, he didn’t do a lot either. What else can you ask of him?”
Note should have been taken of Rachael Blackmore’s sole ride at the meeting, when partnering ‘Queen Jane’ to land the opener prior to heading to the Curragh to take the ride on ‘Echoes Of Rain’ in the finale (finished second). The Henry De Bromhead trained winner was always handy before going second at the penultimate flight and leading at the last to record a very easy success with ‘Will You Win’, which had attempted to make all, relegated to runner up.
Blackmore said: “She won very well and hopefully she’ll have a good summer ahead.”
‘No Caith’ (12s to 7/1) gave an excellent display of jumping on his debut over fences in the Beginners Chase to maintain the winning run of in-form trainer, Paul Flynn.
Top jockey Keith Donoghue was in no rush, sitting mid-division, but the previous flat victor proved the very convincing winner of a competitive contest, readily beating ‘Majavango’ (50s to 16/1) in the closing stages.
Donoghue said: “He was brilliant, really good. He had a good look and a little bit high at a few if anything, but you don’t mind that.”
Champion trainer, Willie Mullins won the bumper with the well-bred newcomer ‘Get Me To The Park’, despite drifting from odds on to 11/8 with the talented Jody Townend in the saddle. The winner had to battle to repel runner up ‘The Grey Dove’ by a head.
Townend said: “She was probably better than it looked, as I don’t think she actually handled the track, she was a bit all over the place. She’s by ‘Walk In The Park’ and can get heated up, but she was good there and found enough. She had the pedigree and she was working well at home, so we were quietly confident.”
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