Moira trainer Lee Smyth was back in the winner’s enclosure on Friday evening when Norville landed the mile handicap with apprentice with Philip Donovan in the saddle.
The local winner, which is owned by Raymond Auld who lives close to the trainer, sprang a 16/1 surprise.
Smyth stated post-race: “People said I was mad running him over a mile but it was on good advice from Niall McCullagh [jockey] who said he’d love a mile around here. He ran great here the last day but was badly hampered and Philip deserved another chance on him.
“He was bucking going out and I knew that was a good sign. He likes the Curragh and I’ll get him ready for there and have him fresh. Six furlongs is what he wants at the Curragh but the mile suits here around the bend. He does nothing in front and needs those blinkers.”
Leading Ulster owner/breeder, Fiona McStay saw her top class mare having to settle for second in the Grade 2 Hurdle at Naas on Saturday behind possible Champion Hurdle contender, Kitten Rock after the mare having every chance at the final flight pecked badly on landing losing momentum.
The Newry owner’s mare finished second last year at the Cheltenham Festival behind stable companion, Quevega for trainer, Willie Mullins however the Irish Champion trainer todate has not detailed plans for Glens Melody. Wounded Warrior – winner of his sole point to point start at Maralin entered the Cheltenham Festival picture when winning the Grade 3 Novice Chase at the Naas meeting.
Armagh duo, father and son Keith and Marshall Watson, enjoyed a very successful weekend despite both their runners filling second place. Heavenly Brook for a remarkable sixth time filled the runner-up spot at Naas and has been beaten less than five lengths in total in his last three races.
The Watson team moved on to Leopardstown on Sunday when Aladdins Cave made his debut over fences.
The horse gifted to Keith and Marshall by the late Rodney Watson was facing no ordinary contest on his first start over the bigger obstacles, but in an enterprising move Keith Watson had entered his horse in the Grade 2 Killiney Novice Chase in anticipation of limited runners in the race.
Only three were declared from an original eleven entries which was what was hoped for by the trainer and rider pair, knowing a clear round would yield almost £4,000.
While Valtour started 1/5 favourite and won as expected in a canter – the second best runner Real Steel owned by Ryanair boss, Michael O’Leary toppled at the last fence and when Marshall Watson steered Aladdins Cave over the final fence albeit almost a hundred lengths behind the Cheltenham Festival bound winner connections collected almost £10,000 for filling second place and a good weekend’s work.
Keith Watson said on Monday: “The plan worked nicely to collect place money – I’ll look for a beginners chase in the near future for him. It was a big ask first time over the Leopardstown fences but he jumped the majority fine and hopefully can pick up a lesser chase.”