GORDON Elliott enhanced his record as leading trainer at Downpatrick with a double at the course last Sunday. Jack Kennedy did the steering on both of the Cullentra winners and Happy D’Ex initiated the brace with a convincing success in the opening mares’ maiden hurdle.
The 100/30 shot was produced to lead at the last in the two-mile-two-furlong contest and galloped on strongly up the hill to post a three-and-a-half-length win over Bella Bliss.
“She’s been a bit disappointing to be honest,” said Elliott.
“Jack said the fast gallop suited her well today and I’ll have a chat now with the two Daves (Page and Rabson) and see what they think, whether we keep her or move her on.
“She won a point-to-point and was recommended to us strongly. We won’t mention any names but he knows who we are talking about! She’s won a bumper and won a maiden hurdle and if every horse did that it would be great.”
Townhill Penny opened her ‘track’ account later on the card in the Balloo Handicap Hurdle, which produced the finish of the day.
Gibbet Hill made a bold bid from the front in the two-mile-five-furlong contest but was strongly pressed close home as the eventual 3/1 winner and Menindee pressed hard. Kennedy got his mount’s head in front late on to secure a neck success over the long-time leader.
There was also a tight finish to the concluding bumper with the Willie Mullins-trained Moon Rise Beauty coming out on top after a good tussle with Moonovercloon.
Patrick Mullins made the running on the 100/30 shot and kept a bit up his sleeve as the eventual runner-up challenged passing the two pole.
Moon Rise Beauty hung a bit right in the closing stages, causing some interference to both the second and third, but survived a stewards enquiry to be confirmed the half-length winner.
Uhtred back to winning ways
THE featured Randox Health Rated Hurdle attracted some decent sorts and Uhtred bounced back to winning ways in the two-mile-two-furlong conditions event.
Dollar Value overcame a tardy start to lead after a couple of hurdles and charted a wide course under Danny Mullins.
He was picked off going to the last, however, as Uhtred and Zarkareva came to dispute the running. Joseph O’Brien’s charge soon asserted under Bryan Cooper and the Gigginstown House Stud gelding galloped on strongly to post an eight-length win.
Cooper, celebrating his 30th birthday on the day, said afterwards: “It was a stop/start race. I jumped out to be forward and he jinked after the second, I thought ‘what is he jinking at’ but then I spotted Danny on the outside. I didn’t know what it was.
“I was just trying to keep him in a rhythm, and together, because the undulations probably didn’t really suit him around here. I just rode him as I found him.
“He’s a classy individual on his day and I felt if he brought that forward here he’d run well. It was a nice performance and a nice confidence booster for him because he’s got plenty of class and that will do him the world of good.”
REXEM was the most impressive winner on the card when claiming the Magners Irish Cider Maiden Hurdle with ease.
John McConnell’s charge won his bumper at the track last month and after a promising hurdling debut, when third at Galway, went to post a 5/6 shot to open his jumping account.
Simon Torrens gave the Derek Kierans-owned gelding a confident ride, making all and kicking clear before the last for an 11-length success over Ask Charlie.
Montel Glory was another to grab more success at the northern track when claiming the Speckled Hen Handicap Hurdle.
Philip Fenton’s charge had opened his account at the track last month and overcame some traffic to lead on the run-in and record a convincing two-and-three-quarter-length win over Darkest Hour.
The trainer paid tribute to winning rider Niall Moore afterwards. “It looked like the gaps weren’t going to come for him but he was pretty cool on him,” he said. “He waited and bided his time. He’ll be back here on the 29th of this month for another one of these handicaps. It’s horses for courses, so why not.”
Lighthouse Rose is another who is becoming something of a course specialist and she recorded her third victory at the track when landing the Tote Mares Handicap Hurdle.
Mark McNiff’s charge, ridden by Oran McGill, proved too hot to handle for her rivals as the 12/1 shot made all and asserted on the run-in for a two-and-three-quarter-length win over Aprils Joy.