Friday evening at Downpatrick races

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Friday evening at Downpatrick races thumbnailFLY Rory Fly getting the better of Market Rival. DEM1999

"EVERY time I arrive at Downpatrick I look around to see what further developments or improvements have been taking place in between meetings as Richard Lyttle and his team never seem to rest on their laurels.
“Those improvements are obviously appreciated by the race goers, who continue to flock through the turnstiles, increasing the attendance figures at every meeting," praised Downpatrick racecourse regular and acclaimed television personality Pamela Ballantine.
Pamela attended Friday's sun-drenched evening meeting, which was very well represented by the locals who really came out in full strength to enjoy the competitive seven race card meeting.
The meeting got underway at 5.15pm with inform handler Gordon Elliott and champion amateur jockey Jamie Codd getting the punters off to a profitable start when the well backed second favourite 'Westland Row' took the spoils after a confident ride by jockey of the moment Codd, who stalked the front running favourite 'Classic Place'.
Coming to the second last fence, 'Westland row' came swinging on the bridle to record a comfortable victory to the delight of the punters in attendance, judging by the victorious shouts from the jam-packed grand stands.
The second race went the way of 'Mysticaltou' ridden by Barry Browne, he came a long way for this ride and made sure his lengthy journey was worthwhile giving this horse a beauty of a ride.
Although three hurdles from home, the eventual winner looked laboured. Browne's urging got the horse a second wind and dashed away to record a victory by two lengths to the delight of trainer Shane Ryder who spoke with us.
“She's her own worst enemy, she can pull a bit and she can be very keen but Barry gave her a great ride there. She's probably never run on ground with firm in it before so maybe we have found the key to her."
Noel Meade is a trainer who seldom leaves this unique course without a winner and tonight was not going to be any different.
In the 6.15pm race he had a very well backed favourite 'Fly Rory Fly', who came into this race on a recovery assignment after getting nabbed very late on at this venue at a meeting here last month and was expected to go one place better today.
He was given a quite ride by jockey Sean Flanagan, who was content to sit behind the front runner and bide his time, and everything went to plan as his mount jumped and moved the best throughout the contest.
Heading round the home turn, backers would have had a moments concern as the front runner looked to be knuckling down and not for passing, but the winning jockey Sean Flanagan kept his composure and was not in the mood for being deprived of victory again and really galvanised his mount to get on top right on the line for a hard brawled victory.
We spoke to trainer Noel Meade after the race and he told us: "He's lazy. I'd say he will probably be better jumping fences. He's a big horse but he does seem to handle the ground, so I'd say we will keep going. I wouldn't be surprised if he does go over fences sooner rather than later."
The well hyped favourite for the 6.50pm race was 'Presenting Julio', which was formally trained in Newry by handler Liam Lennon but recently moved ownership to the all-conquering Gordon Elliott stables in Co Meath.
He was expected to run well after running so creditable in previous outings at this racetrack and that theory was spot on as the horse was placed right at the back by jockey Jamie Codd who was in no hurry to get his mount to the front but gradually throughout the race he moved closer to the pace until he pounced at the last and powered up the hill to win the race by as much as he wanted.
We had a conversation with the trainer Gordon Elliott after the race and he informed us, "He was the one we really fancied coming up. He's owned by Danny Charlesworth from England so it's nice he won again. He just likes the good ground. He ran well and he'll win again hopefully."
Andrew McNamara is a well-recognised figure in the winners enclosures at Downpatrick but now since he retired from the saddle he has become a reputable trainer and this evening was his first winning runner here at this venue as his horse 'Kilderry Prince' ran out a very popular winner as on course it had been subject to a significant gamble all afternoon.
Available generally at 14/1 early doors before being backed right into a 4/1 and bolted in under young jockey Conor Maxwell who was always up with the pace and could be spotted the winner from a long way out, though waited until after the second last fence then kicked for home and was not for stopping.
Iif anything going away further to the glee of winning trainer of the 7.25pm race who looked over the moon with that success at this track where he had so much success as a jockey.
The penultimate race of the evening, local jockeys Mark O'Hare and Noel McParland where involved in this 7.55pm race and it was McParland's horse, who was the warm order 8/11 favourite, anticipated to go very close though could not handle the late throttle of the unfancied 'Can't pay won't pay', who came from first to last to deny the favourite by the minimum of margins.
Gordon Elliott and Jamie Codd capped off an outstanding evening, winning the finale when 'Penny Jane' soared off and made all the running, though looking leg weary in the last few hundred yards but jockey Codd kept the horse up to its work and fought out a narrow victory and secured a treble on the card for himself and trainer Gordon Elliott.
They really are hot property in the Irish racing scene at present and long may it last.
On a concluding note from the acclaimed Pamela Ballantine: "It is also gratifying to see so many people from around the local community supporting this historic racecourse with the local press really helping to promote the facilities.
“The developments at the racecourse and the standard of the track are not just appreciated by the race goers but also by owners, trainers, jockeys and stable staff many of whom seek out the Downpatrick
team to thank them for the hard work they do to make them feel appreciated," also adding
that she is looking forward to the next meeting that is on May 19.


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