Fans of Ruby Walsh were pleased with themselves after the Champion Jump jockey claimed the opener on Sarwistan at Downpatrick last weekend when proving best in a close finish to beat favourite John Monash by a neck.
Tony Martin said: “What can you say - he got a very canny ride from Ruby. Any race is hard to win but he’s gone and done it. He’’ll mix it on the flat and over hurdles - he’s only coming to himself now.
“The Downpatrick management has done a smashing job with the ground - it’s in lovely condition and safe jumping ground. I was a bit concerned about whether the ground would be safe enough for him but it is absolutely beautiful ground.”
Sligo handler Mark McNiff maintained his excellent record at Downpatrick when Urban Dusk completed back-to-back victories at the course with regular rider, Derek Fox aboard.
The winner is owned by the eight-man Sligo Racing Club. Tom Magowan said: “Mark’s a marvellous trainer especially with lesser horses. The form last time was franked with the third horse winning since. Derek [Fox] rides this track better than anyone. She’s a game little mare and lovely to own - we’re having plenty of fun with her.”
McNiff now has a total of seven winners from a small team for the season.
Gordon Elliott gained compensation for the defeat of his runner in the first race when Altiepix with Bryan Cooper in the saddle readily landed the EBF Hurdle.
The County Meath trainer was absent on Saturday having departed for America to see Eshtiaal - owned by football agents Mark McKay and Bill Salthouse - run in the American Grand National. Barry Geraghty had travelled over to partner the horse in Saturday’s spectacular.
The winning jockey said: “He found plenty. It was his first run of the year and he will improve a lot. He’ll make a lovely staying chaser. He stuck at it well and is crying out for a fence.”
Elliott’s American trip saw his runner, a Down Royal winner in May, having to settle for runner-up in the Grand National and Barry Geraghty beaten by his older brother, Ross, who was winning the big jumps race for the third time. Ruby Walsh attempting to expand his Grand Nationals CV was another riding in the feature but finished last on last year’s winner, Demonstrative.
The Celebrating 330 Years Chase produced a thriller. Glaboystown Lady and Paudi The Punter exited in spectacular style at the final fence on the penultimate circuit. Glaboystown Lady slipped coming into the fence catapulting Johnny King into jockey Shane Crimin dislodging him from the saddle.
One Fine Morning looked assured of victory bypassing the last fence however jockey Brian Hayes excelled on Down Time having appeared beaten but rallied close to the line to win by a neck for trainer “Shark” Hanlon.
Hayes said: “He stays well but is very lazy. He could be progressive. Under top weight he ran a nice race.”
Punters took note that Danny Mullins was riding for his father, Tony, who was having a rare runner at the track with Battling Boru in the Beginners chase and it duly paid dividends.
Mustadrik appeared set to provide Gordon Elliott with another winner but “Boru” battled home to score.
Tony Mullins said: “He’s a natural jumper and really loves an uphill finish - he just finds another gear. That cheered me up as I have lost a couple of horses this week due to misfortune.”
Donagh Myler - a rising star of the jockey ranks - was seen to good advantage when scoring on The Mooch for trainer Paul Nolan in another power-packed finish to the handicap chase with Ruby Walsh on Old Castletown trained by his father having to settle for runner-up.
Nolan said: “He’ll go to Wexford next, if he gets in.”
Conscience cantered to victory in the concluding bumper for trainer, Dessie McDonagh with odds on favourite Faraway Mountain flopping badly.
The winning trainer said: “Her last run proved she handled the track. She travelled well and James gave her a cracking ride. She’ll go hurdling. She’s small but beautifully made.”
The final Downpatrick fixture of the year saw Ollie Murphy – Assistant trainer to Gordon Elliott - accept the Horse First sponsored Leading trainer Award of his behalf with Elliott having a tally of 14 for the year at the track.
Johnny King picked up the Leading Jockey Award on behalf of Bryan Cooper – the rider moving to five with Friday’s additional winner. The prizes were presented by Horse First Northern based manager Gaye Ferris.