Racing at Downpatrick on Friday evening got underway with leading trainer at the local track, Gordon Elliott, bringing his tally to 13 for the season when Dancing Meadows with Bryan Cooper in the saddle easily claimed the opener to justify the favourite’s tag.
Elliott said: “She’s been frustrating with various little things. I’m delighted she won for the owners who are based in Britain. She could go for a mares novice in England at some point.”
Sligo trainer Mark McNiff recorded winner number four of the year at the course when Urban Dusk partnered by Derek Fox proved best in a three way battle to the line.
McNiff said of the winner owned by the Sligo Racing Club comprising of twenty members: “I got it wrong last time with my instructions. You need to take your time with her. She entered at Sedgefield next Tuesday. I’ll see how she is and decide. Derek [Fox] is definitely the best claiming rider in the country.”
Trainer Liz Doyle supplied the winner of the maiden hurdle with Tigroney and claiming rider, Donagh Meyler aboard despite the late efforts of favourite, Barack Street to catch the winner close home.
Doyle said: “That was a great ride from the young lad. We discussed the race before hand and knew there would be no pace so I told him – you kick on at the top of the hill and if you get beat it’s my fault. It was one of those races when you need to do something to win it. I’m not sure what’s next but she’s due a holiday soon.”
Liz Doyle completed a double at Downpatrick when Whizzzey Rascal with Finny Maguire in the saddle easily scored in the bumper with the trainer stating: “It was a beautiful ride and I knew we had to be positive today. I told him to kick at the third last as I knew she would gallop the whole way to the line. She worked super two days ago.”
The Strictly Beginners Chase proved a real thriller with six horses jumping the last together and just over a length separating the first four home. 20/1 chance Sister Annie trained by former jump jockey, John Cullen who is now focusing on training beat the locally owned and trained, Drumhart a head with the Noel Meade trained favourite, Zigger Zagger, a length behind separated by a head from the fourth placed Show And Go.
A delighted Wexford-based Cullen said: “Today was always the plan since Tramore. I’ve nothing specific in mind for her next race. That’s two winners this season. I have two in training for track proper.”
Trainer Colin Bowe’s pair of runners in the EBF Beginners Chase dominated the finish with Gold Patrol partnered by Mikey Fogarty prevailing having rallied when headed to beat stable companion, Don Vincenzo. The leading point to point trainer for several seasons was absent, but his representative said: “The better ground today helped. He was unlucky at Wexford. He might get a break now but Colin will decide.”
Killeen Elegance completed a treble on the day for lady trainers when easily landing the handicap chase in the hands of Andrew Lynch for Co Meath based, Claire O’Connell.
The latter said: “The blinkers made the difference. Andrew suggested them after his last race and we knew he would handle the track having run over hurdles here last time. Andrews knows him well and he wants a bit of space racing. I have known Andrew a long time. His mother Una looked after me as a child.”