Dromore trainer Sarah Dawson supplied a surprise 20/1 winner of the long distance hurdle at her local course when Degenerous made all the running to score with Roger Loughran in the saddle.
The winner established an early lead prior to going a distance clear in the back straight but approaching three from home appeared to be tiring as challengers made ground but to her credit kept on gamely.
Dawson said: “I’m so pleased for everyone involved. I have retired a few of my old handicappers and have a new batch coming through. I thought there might be no pace, so told Roger to go to the front and leave no petrol in the tank. I was a bit worried about the ground but she handled it well – she will be better again over fences. She’s had no luck in running in recent starts due to no fault of her own. She’s a very genuine mare.”
The double for locals on the day was completed when Cottersrock claimed the concluding bumper for Banbridge trainer, Jerry Cosgrave in impressive fashion. The winner partnered by Ulster Champion point to point rider, Noel McParlan always travelled easily and shot clear when asked turning into the straight.
Cosgrave said: “He should have won at Kilbeggan last time [runner-up] - he got hampered late in the race. I had a slight worry about the ground but he’s a very nice horse and will make up into a chaser. He would be for sale now.”
Kildare trainer, Jessica Harrington maintained her excellent strike record at Down Royal when landing the opener last night with Lake Champlain. The winner with Robbie Power aboard lead three from home after the front running Nice Vintage unseated her rider and four in a line jumped the final flight with Lake Champlain always maintaining her advantage on the run to the line.
The winning jockey said: “I was left in front a lot sooner than I wanted. She put her head down and went about her business when the others came to me. I was never really worried and she jumped the last great. Jessie’s horses are in great form at present.”
Favourite Tudor City never threatened and the first four home were well clear of the remainder.
Harrington and Power quickly completed a double when claiming the second contest with Flavianna. The winner was brought with a wide decisive challenge in the closing stages to score as the runner-up, Catcheragain flew home to take second and only three lengths covered the first five home while Hello Sweetie had looked the likely winner on the downhill run.
Top jockey Power said: “She ran well at Cork but has been running too free. She dug deep tonight and toughed it out. She’s only learning to race – a strong run two miles will suit – they went slow this evening.”
Comragh trained by Stuart Crawford at Larne should be noted having been denied a clear run close to the line and should gain compensation in the coming weeks.
County Meath trainer Tony Martin supplied the first two home in the featured Rated Hurdle when Cassells Rock beat stable companion, Pires - winner of the race last year. The winner partnered by claiming rider, Donagh Meyler was always travelling easily and jumped into the lead at the penultimate flight as the front running, Coldstonesober faded to finish fourth.
Martin said: “I’ve no plans at present – I will see how he comes out of tonight.”
While the winning jockey added: “He did it well and travelled and jumped well and got away with the ground [soft].”
Shane Shortall who had to settle for second Pires partnered Rock On Rosie to victory in another driving finish in the handicap hurdle. Ciankyle lead from halfway and four jumped the second last together but it was Rock On Rosie that battled best to the line in the closing stages.
Winning trainer Adrian Joyce said: “She came out of her race well last time and I was not worried about dropping back in trip - she might go to Roscommon on Monday.”
Shortall added: “I was always travelling well - She can be hard on herself and I waited and really wanted a lead over the last.”
Little Mich trained by Yvonne Latta proved the game winner of the Tayto Hurdle with Mark Walsh aboard.
The top jockey jumped into the lead three out and repelled all challengers thereafter.
The rider said: “She was entitled to do that – for a small filly she jumps great.”
The trainer’s son Andrew Latta added: “She had been making the running but we took the hood off tonight. I freshened her up after Galway – she’ll keep going and we’ll try for a bit of black type with her.”