Sole Witness lands the feature race at Maralin points fixture

The Colin McBratney trained, Sole Witness pictured over the final fence proved the decisive winner of the feature race at Maralin
The Colin McBratney trained, Sole Witness pictured over the final fence proved the decisive winner of the feature race at Maralin

The Colin McBratney trained Sole Witness showed his liking for the Maralin point to point venue when landing the featured open race on Saturday.

The eventual winner made all the running with Noel McParlan aboard.

The Crossgar trained horse ran well at the Moira venue last season and has shown consistent form in points and is also a four time course winner.

Sole Witness which made all the running reversed placing at Armagh with the runner-up Current Exchange while favourite, Chosen Dream filled third in a competitive contest.

McBratney, who saw Carsonstown Boy placed for the second year in the Cheltenham Festival Foxhunters when filling fourth, said: “He’ll continue in open races but I could aim him at the banks race at the Punchestown Festival – he jumps very well.”

The opening four year old maiden produced a smart horse with the Gordon Elliott trained Baltazar D’Allier and current All-Ireland Champion Jamie Codd in the saddle. The pair went clear after the penultimate fence to register an impressive debut victory while the placed horses, Semper Fortis and favourite Ballycrosse, should be noted in the coming weeks.

Newry rider Jason McKeown partnered Thebarrowman to success in the geldings maiden despite repeated jumping errors which allowed the local rider to be seen to good advantage.

Ballyclare trainer Ben Arthey has been quietly clocking up course winners in Britain, but saddled a winner on the local circuit when The Sophster came good after several placed efforts when making all the running with top rider Derek O’Connor aboard and scoring easily by ten lengths.

The winner is owned by Rodney McIlveen – described as a lynch pin in operation by the trainer – supervising matters when the trainer travels to the UK and rides out the winner which he also bred every day.

Arthey said: “I’ll look for a mares’ winners race. She would be for sale but if unsold will continue in point to points this season.”

Former Northern Region Champion Mark O’Hare, from Warrenpoint, showed his had not lost his touch when landing the older geldings maiden on Overtheedge owned and trained by Co Down-based Ann Hunter.

Fagan supplied a winner for Ballymena trainer Ian Ferguson in the finale readily improving prior to the penultimate fence and easily beating runner-up, Maple Mons. The winner provided multiple Irish Champion Derek O’Connor with a double on the day.

Ferguson said: “I’ll probably aim at a winners event over the Easter period and will have a return to the track in mind for a bumper when the points season ends.”