Down Royal double for locals

Keep On Track pictured with winning connections  L-R Cullybackey trainer, Ian Ferguson, Jane Ferguson, Jessica Byres, owner-Bill Porter and winning jockey, Liam Mc Kenna.
Keep On Track pictured with winning connections L-R Cullybackey trainer, Ian Ferguson, Jane Ferguson, Jessica Byres, owner-Bill Porter and winning jockey, Liam Mc Kenna.

Keep On Track trained at Cullybackey by Ian Ferguson and owned by Portrush based house builder Bill Porter proved the facile winner of the Martinstown Chase following a dramatic Melee at the fourth last fence at Down Royal.

Araglen Lad fell resulting in Five O’Clock Tea being brought down, Heavenly Brook hampered and unseating his rider and Hurricane Ivan being badly hampered - likewise several other runners.

The County Antrim trainer said: “We are finding out about him, he came to me recently. Enda Bolger has all his schooling done and credit to him. He was well tutored and schooled. Enda told me he likes fast ground and banks courses. This was a finding out exercise. That was nice, it’s always nice to get a winner. His jumping told, he loves jumping. I told Liam to be positive with him. He’s a big, healthy horse. A banks race at Punchestown in May is the target. He’s been placed there before.”

Larne trainer Stuart Crawford maintained his high strike rate when Glenquest - third in the Welsh Grand National - recorded a very easy victory in the Tote Hurdle with Andrew Lynch aboard who has also partnered Strongpoint to win at Naas on Saturday with both the pair reverting from the larger obstacles to hurdles.

Stuart was represented by his brother, Ross at the course but said from home: “The original plan was to run in that race last week and then go to Haydock next weekend but the meeting was put back a week. I’ll possibly aim at the Eider Chase at Newcastle as I don’t think he would get into the Aintree National but the long term aim would be the Scottish Grand National and we might enter in some of the staying chases at the Cheltenham Festival.”

Racing got underway at the Maze when Katnap and Aurora Bell battled out the finish to the opening handicap chase with the former having attempted to make all while the winner, Aurora Bell held a narrow advantage jumping the penultimate fence and maintained the margin to the line.

The winner is trained by John Burke and was partnered by his son, Martin while the winning trainer said: “We’ll play it by ear and look for another handicap for him. He seems to be a fairly good horse. He jumped very well. He’s cute and he’s improving. We’ll go another step with him. I’m only training four horses. We break a lot of horses.”

The complexion of the featured Rodney Watson Memorial Chase was another contest to change perspective in the closing stages when Aladdins Cave which had improved into third and appeared a likely major player in the finish fell at the second last - impeding Colms Dream resulting in the Gordon Elliott trained, Rocky Wednesday which lead three from home being able to coast to the line.

The County Meath trainer said: “Davy (Condon) gave him a great ride. He’s a very good rider. This horse is a bit of a monkey but he got his head in front. On his hurdles form he was entitled to win.

“I rode a few winners for Rodney Watson so it is nice to win this race. He was a gentleman and a great point-to-point man which I was brought up in.”

The Sean Hurdle needed a photo to separate After Aspen and Tearaway Queen producing a 25/1 winner and 100/1 runner-up with favourite, Altiepix only half a length being the first pair home.

Winning trainer, Liz Doyle said: “It’s been a rotten couple of days [lost stable star Kauto Grand Mogul at Clonmel on Tuesday]. That’s the first winner in my late father’s colours. He’s for sale but I would like to keep him in the yard.”

Shabra’s Bertolini trained by Antony McCann - the former assistant to the late Monaghan trainer, Oliver Brady and now the licence holder proved the easy winner of the novice handicap hurdle with Jonathan Moore in the saddle - justifying sustained support in the ring.

The Shark Hanlon trained, Cape City Boy duly landed the concluding bumper in facile fashion with Finny Maguire - son of former top jump jockey, Adrian Maguire aboard and the winner endorsing the promise of his debut effort when runner-up at Naas.