The Gordon Elliott-trained Akorakor in the Michael O’Leary colours with retained rider Bryan Cooper in the saddle easily landed the opening maiden hurdle at Downpatrick - leading at the final flight and readily asserted on the run home.
Elliott said: “We thought he’d win coming up as it wasn’t a strong race and was a big drop in class. We’ll see where we go from here but we’ll see if we can find another small race to get him a bit of confidence.”
Autumn Shades proved the easy winner of the mares hurdle when making most of the running and surviving a mistake at the last to land the mares maiden hurdle for jockey, Johnny Burke and trainer Michael Molloy.
The trainer said after recording his first course winner since 2009: “She deserved that as I thought in Punchestown she didn’t deserve the fall she had. People were telling me to up her in trip, but I thought after Navan she didn’t stay.
“She has plenty of pace and I think a helluva lot of this mare, that’s why I kept her. She’s a chaser but we might find another hurdle race for her next.”
Top trainer Edward O’Grady, Nicky Henderson’s stable jockey, Barry Geraghty and the colours of leading Irish owner, JP Mc Manus were in the Downpatrick winner’s enclosure ahead of this week’s Cheltenham Festival after the success of Jumptoconclusions in the novice handicap hurdle.
The winner lead at the last and won in facile fashion and O’Grady said: “The race panned out very much for him and the fancied horses had a bad day out or fell. He was fortunate and I’m delighted and I think he will like better ground. We’ll probably try for something similar next.”
A photograph was needed to separate Annie Alainn and Disputed in the Northern Region Breeders Handicap hurdle before Annie Alainn, trained by Thomas Mullins and partnered by his son David, was declared the winner.
Magical Mother claimed the handicap chase for trainer, John Beamish and jockey Kevin Sexton.
The lead alternated in the hunterchase as the locally trained James attempted to make most of the running leading four from home however, favourite Court Frontier trained by Alan Fleming with John Fitzpatrick in the saddle and having lost his place a mile from home was the one to deliver a decisive challenge going to the last fence and win easily on the uphill climb.
Alberta, with Nina Carberry in the saddle, duly completed a double on the day for Meath trainer Gordon Elliott easily beating chief market rival Hot On Her Heels to maintain the amazing strike rate of the trainer at the local venue.