THE Willie Mullins trained, ‘Caro des Flos’ justified support to land the opener at Downpatrick with David Mullins aboard. The winner was always at the head of affairs prior to asserting before the penultimate flight and won unchallenged as former Ulster pointer, ‘Ravenhill’ ran on to claim second with the locally owned, ‘Count Simon’ filling third – the last pair trained by Gordon Elliott.
The winning rider said: “I’d say he is a bit better than his ratings suggest. He needs just a good trip and a strongly run race and on good ground around here you get that. He’ll certainly get three miles and he’ll have no problem jumping a fence.”
The handicap hurdle supplied a shock. The well supported favourite, ‘Banksoftheshannon’ was pulled up at an early stage [lame post-race] and ‘Two In One’ scored at 33/1 for father and son duo, Philip and Luke Dempsey. The surprise winner fitted with first-time cheek pieces produced a very game effort to make all and repel challengers in the closing stages, with Luke Dempsey seen to excellent advantage in the saddle.
Dempsey Senior said: “He got a dreadful fall and we actually had to send him down to Ger Kelly [vet] to operate on him and he got him back. We schooled him over fences, but he was afraid for his life, so we gave him a run over hurdles. He had been working well.”
Luke Dempsey doubled up at the track when getting up late on the Jimmy Finn trained, ‘Dorkas’ after ‘He Knows My Name’ looked likely to supply a local winner in the handicap chase with one fence omitted due to low-lying sun.
Finn said “It was a great ride from Luke. I promised his father I’d give him a spin – I met him in Sligo and he did me a turn. I met him (Luke Dempsey) in the car park and said to him that this mare had a great chance with the drying ground.”
Finn doubled up on the night when ‘Turbo’ made all in the bumper, providing amateur James Hannon also with a double.
Jimmy Finn said of his bumper winner: “He works very well at home. He was very keen in Punchestown. Robert Tyner said they rode him out front in a point-to-point and that’s the way to ride him. He was unlucky not to win his point-to-point, he unseated at the last. James (Hannon) actually rode him and that’s why we got him today. He kind of knew him. He’ll go hurdling, he jumps exceptionally well. He’s a nice horse and it’s nice to see him go and do it. I’m very happy with him. I’d love to keep him, but it’s up to the owner (his niece Amanda Finn).”
Hannon replaced Johnny Barry aboard ‘Macs Legend’ to land the hunterchase with the market principals disappointing.
The locally trained, ‘Folly Dat’ attempted to make all in the handicap hurdle, however the 50/1 chance was overhauled in the closing stages, as Danny Mullins on ‘King Of Aran’ got a dream run up the inside to prevail, gaining a third course victory, while favourite ‘Crown Of Thorns’ under pressure some way out kept on to finish second.
Danny Mullins said: “He acts very well around here. He had a good run on the flat the last day. Michael (Grassick) is a very sharp trainer and I knew I was coming here with a chance.”
‘Whatsinthecorner’ with Rachel Blackmore in the saddle and the gambled favourite, ‘Ri An Rian’ fought out the finish of the novice chase – the pair a distance clear of the remainder with the verdict going to the first named trained by Shark Hanlon, who said: “He’s a good-ground horse, ground is the key factor to him. I’m delighted to get that out of the way now because I was beginning to wonder would he ever win a race. I’d say it was a very moderate race, but listen a bad race is a hard win!”