Huge crowds and lots of fun for all

Huge crowds and lots of fun for all

18 July 2018

MEATH trainer Gordon Elliott stole the show yet again at Friday’s very popular family fun race day at Downpatrick Racecourse.

In fact it was a good day for Meath-based trainers as Gavin Cromwell recorded a double and there was also a winner for Tom Gibney.

The only other trainer to record a victory was Tyrone-based Andy Oliver who was at the sales and not present to great greet his winner. 

Elliott’s three winners brought his total for the year at the local track, where he has been top trainer over the past two years, to ten.

His first success of the day came in the second race on the card, the Tullyraine Veterinary Clinic (C&G) Maiden Hurdle.

Go Guarantor, a runner-up at the last meeting at the track, set out to make all, but was headed by Youghal By The Sea’ in the closing stages. Back in third was The Moore Factor.

The winner is owned and was bred by Jerry Russell, father of successful jockey Davy, who said that they travelled up in the car together from Cork and his father never spoke “so it’s just as well I won, as it would be a long journey home this evening.” SP: evens favourite, 7/4, 5-1.

The family still have the dam at home and some foals for sale.

Elliott followed up this success in the fifth face of the day, the Joe Rea Memorial Maiden Hurdle, with Touch Base, in the famous JP McManus colours. Jockey Mark Walsh beat local hope Caerleon Kate’, ridden by Adam Short, and back in third was Presenting Princess. 

Pamela Ballentine had a share in the runner-up and she didn’t meet a microphone to be heard as the horses battled it out to the judge. SP: 2/1 fav, 12/1, 3/1.

Joe Rea did so much to save the course many years ago and his daughter, Adele, sponsored best turned out prizes on behalf of her late father in all races.

Elliott’s third success came in the final race and on the card, the Two N&Ms Bumper, the only race not over hurdles.

The easy winner was Present in Court’, ridden by Lisa O’Neill, who works in Elliott’s stable. The partnership came home clear of GreenandWhiteArmy’, owned and trained at Loughbrickland by Neil McKnight. Running a good race to be a close third was “Uknowwhatimean, the mount of Rory Devine.

Present in Court was bred outside Belfast by former amateur rider and trainer Graham Morrow. After winning a point-to-point in England the horse was sold for £65,000 and is now owned by none other than Qatar Racing. Good to see these colours at Downpatrick. SP: 2/1 fav, 8/1, 14-1. 

Gavin Cromwell’s first success of the day came in the opening race, the BMG Insurance Hurdle, which was also the most valuable race at £15,000.

Political Policy, who also won the previous Saturday at Bellewstown when providing rider Ger Fox with his first success following a six-month suspension, made all the running to beat the Davy Russell-ridden Count Simon, with Niven in third. SP: 11/4, 7/4 fav, 7/2.

Fox said post race he was pleased to repay Cromwell with winners as he stood by him during a difficult time. 

The same trainer and rider combination went on to win the ITBA Mares Maiden Hurdle when Aasleagh Dawn got up to head Inishbel, which had set out to make all the running, with Isle of Destiny third. Inishbel is owned by Moira’s Pat McCartan. SP: 11/4, 7/1, 8/15 fav.

The easiest winner of the day proved to be Tara Mia in the Balloo Vets Handicap Hurdle.

Behind for most of the race the Jonathan Moore-ridden filly passed the judge 14 lengths clear of Shaumaker’ in the colours of Co Antrim owner Karen McNeilly, with long time leader Timmone in third. The winner was trained by Irish Grand National-winning trainer Tom Gibney for his wife Heidi and was Moore’s second success of the year. A race for the bookies. SP: 12/1, 25/1, 3/1.

Andy Oliver, who was not present, had his runner Go Guarantor beaten into second place in the second race of the day, but he proved to be the only trainer not based in Co Meath and also the only Northern trainer to get on the scoreboard when Touchedbyanangel repeated an earlier success at Downpatrick for Antrim owner Ronnie Graffin and jockey Andrew Lynch by winning the North Down Marquees Handicap Hurdle from Lady of the Sea’ and Blue Skimmer, trained by James Lambe and ridden by his stepson, Liam McKenna. SP: 2/1 fav, 9/2, 16/1.

Full marks to the head groundsman and staff at Downpatrick for producing good ground, despite the long dry spell. A lot of hard work, so well done.

The acting stewards were Robert Steele, Colin Magnier, Leslie Crawford, Raymond Martin and Peter Matthews.

Sad to record that Sam Nelson who was recently elected as a director of the course, has passed away. Kevin Maginn, who was a regular attender at meetings, also passed away recently.

The local horse racing world was also sad to learn of the passing of John Ross, from Ardglass, just short of his 103rd birthday. He was the father of Raymond, well known as the first man to video races at Downpatrick and Down Royal, as well as local point-to-points.

It was also sad to learn of the passing at the age of 25 years of Laura Barry, the Limerick born jockey, following a battle with cancer. She was due to get married last Saturday.

Next meeting on Sunday, August 12.