The Armagh point to point proved a day of doubles for connections with all six races supplying local victories.
The Armagh locals assisted the turnout on a day when the weather took a major turn for the worse halfway through the meeting.
The Watson family duly took the opening Hunt Cup with Illusion Of Time which made all the running to score while owner/rider Alan Wells, who works for the Watsons, partnered his own Cabra Boy into second.
The winner is now owned by Leigh Watson of the Killyhevlin Hotel having been purchased by her husband – the late Rodney Watson who sadly passed away last year.
Illusion of Time was trained and ridden by Marshall Watson, who said: “I’m delighted for Leigh as she kept him to race and our local hunt race is very important in it’s own sphere. I bought him from Christy Roche and he has now won three point to points and finished second in a hunterchase. If he’s OK – I will probably let him take his chance in the Downpatrick hunterchase on Wednesday.”
Derrylin-based David Christie got onto the scoreboard for the new season with a double at the Farmacaffley venue – the pair supplying a double for rider, Barry O’Neill.
Odds-on favourite Sole Witness attempted to make all the running in the featured open race however the testing conditions took their toll after the penultimate fence and the Christie-trained The Hard Hat enjoyed a change of luck following placed efforts to score easily having waited in the rear prior to travelling through to lead two from home.
Runner-up Current Exchange also had every chance but found no extra pace before the final fence.
The Fermanagh trainer said: “He was due that one – He’ll keep going in open company and possibly a hunterchase.”
The Derrylin handler quickly doubled up in the winners contest when Harbour Pirate justified support [3/1 to 6/4 favourite] when leading at the last.
The winning trainer advised: “I might look for an opportunity in Britain. He was fourth in a Fairyhouse hunterchase last time and I’ll consider going that route with him.”
Irish Champion rider Derek O’Connor partnered Mont Choisy to debut success in the geldings maiden – the winner owned by Wilson Dennison and trained at Ballymena by Ian Ferguson for the leading points owner.
The winner survived a last fence mistake while the testing conditions saw Inatick fall three from home and Letskeepitsimple, which appeared a possible winner, fell at the penultimate fence and favourite, Slemish [3/1 to evens] could only manage to fill third place.
Banbridge trainer Gerry Cosgrave produced Zeinab to win the mares maiden after a two year absence in style for owner Brian Kilpatrick.
Gonal, owned and trained by Ballyclare-based John Bryson, supplied a first career victory for Neill Gault, leading at the penultimate fence and kept on best in the deteriorating conditions.