The North Down point to point at Kirkistown saw Warne prove the star of the show.
The Brian Hamilton trained horse, owned by Robert Waley-Cohen, the Chairman of Cheltenham racecourse, gave the perfect display of jumping and making all the running to claim the featured open race with Hamilton’s stable rider Declan Lavery aboard.
The superiority of the winner allowed the winning rider to canter to the line under hands and heels while he had a quick look at the vain attempt of Champion rider, Derek O’Connor to mount a challenge on Chosen Dream.
He is fully on track for his attempt at back-to-back wins at Aintree.
The winning Downpatrick-based trainer, who has long since laid out a similar plan to last year when his stable star started his campaign by winning at Kirkistown prior to Aintree victory, said: “I was delighted with that and Deckie [Declan Lavery] gave him a lovely ride which will have left him ready for Aintree. He’ll go straight to Aintree now and we’ll hope for the best.”
The Downpatrick trainer and rider combination completed a double on the day when Canadian Steel made a ten length winning debut in the finale improving three from home and registering a facile victory with Lavery again seen to good advantage. It’s surprising the very talented local rider, who was formerly a professional claiming jockey based with Irish Champion trainer Willie Mullins, does not have more opportunities on the local circuit.
Former Northern Region Champion rider Noel McParlan registered a double at the meeting in his attempt to regain the title.
The Newry rider took the opener on the well supported Good Vibrations - owned and trained by Templepatrick based Graham McKeever – the winner showing the advantage of his sole start and experience when fourth at the venue last month.
Good Vibrations held off the late challenge of the runner-up, Rolling Dylan, by a fast diminishing one and half lengths with the Ryanair owned odds on favourite, Balzac Turgot, half-length in arrears in third. The placed pair should collect their maidens in the coming weeks.
McParlan was also seen to excellent advantage when landing the mares maiden on newcomer, Universal Wren in a battling finish with favourite, Escape Footwear.
The winner is trained by Rodney Arthur for the Small Diamonds Syndicate – a quartet of lads from Ballymena.
Arthur said: “She’s a decent mare and I’m delighted for the lads as they are a great bunch and will have plenty of fun with her. I’ll aim her at a mares winners race in the coming weeks. She’ll come on again from that today.”
Ballyoptic, owned by Leading local points owner Wilson Dennison, was another to catch the eye when scoring for Cullybackey trainer Ian Ferguson.
The winner with multiple All-Ireland Champion rider, Derek O’Connor in the saddle readily made all the running to record victory and Ferguson said: “I expected him to run well today. He has improved again since being placed first time out at Maralin last November. He’ll be for sale – like all the owners horses but if not sold I’ll run him in a winners contest at Easter.”
County Dublin based trainer Jim Dreaper despite runners and recording winners at both Limerick and Uttoexter on Saturday – winning the Midlands Grand National at the later course with Goonyella opted to travel to Kirkistown with Kayr Supreme – like Goonyella owned by Alan Potts who has the team of horses with the “Sizing” prefix.
The trip was not in vain with Kayf Supreme showing the battling qualities required for chasers when having made all the running was headed at the final fence but rallied strongly under top rider, Jamie Codd, who registered a double at the Cheltenham Festival this week to prevail by a neck at the winning post.