Down Royal comes up with the goods

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

DOWN Royal racecourse is one of two tracks in Northern Ireland and is located just 27 miles from Newry, they host racing all year round both on the Flat and under National Hunt rules, with a total of 12 race meetings taking place there every year.

It is always a firm favourite with trainers and punters locally as they are always well represented.

On a beautiful spring evening on Friday past there was a competitive seven race card meeting with the proceedings getting underway at 5.45pm.

The heavily backed favourite 'Probing' from the Henry de Bromhead stable came to grief at the second-last fence when traveling ominously well and looking to have the race at his mercy, leaving the race wide open.

In the end it was a hard fought slow motion finish with two runners neck and neck and going agonisingly close to the extent the judge could not spilt them.

Unquestionably it was called a dead heat, which means both of them are winners and the prize money is shared equally.

The trainer of 'All's Quiet' Aidan McGuiness thought it was the right decision and after the race he said: "Luke McGuinness, the jockey on board, is also my nephew and he didn't think he won it and Johnathan Moore, jockey on 'Silken Thomas' didn't think he had it either, they were both guessing so we won't complain. It's a good result all-round."

Trainer Eoin Doyle is becoming something of a course specialist, when he sends a runner to this Northern Ireland venue it gives clear intent, as this season alone he has sent two horses and both of them have won very easily.

Friday's victory in the 6.15pm race was courtesy of the well backed favourite 'Fiesola', who was held up for most of the race but gradually built up stream halfway through the contest.

Then at the second last fence jockey on board Andrew Ring took the race winning incentive and challenged the leaders before kicking for home and was never for catching.

In the same race, well regarded Ballyholland man Cathal McGovern owned a principle contender in the shape of 'Mountain Kingdom', who is trained in Downpatrick by handler Colin McBratney.

Undoubtedly an unlucky loser but he unquestionably went into the notebooks of plenty as the horse unfortunately blew his chances at the start after being reluctant to jump off with the rest of the pack and lost a few vital lengths.

However, there were plenty of positives to be taken from his third placing here and he gave the suspicion there are plenty of races to be won with this quirky but obviously talented horse, we are certain he will be in the winners enclosures in the not so distant future for owner Cathal McGovern, who is a great supporter of local horse racing.

The Gordon Elliott trained 'Station Closed' was victorious seven days prior to this meeting at Downpatrick racecourse and the clearly in-form horse got his tricky head in front again here in the 6.45pm helped by an absolutely spectacular ride by former Gold Cup winning jockey Davy Russell, who was in no mood to be denied as the horse slipped through a wall of horses just after the last fence.

Although he had stern challengers on either side of him he gamely stuck on for the urging of jockey onboard, who really roused this horse home to a narrow victory.

After the race, we spoke to a member of the winning syndicate and he said: "This horse is not straight forward and we were happy to get the one victory out of him but to get another in the space of a week is really something else, but maybe I am speaking incorrect and this is just the start of him making up for lost time."

‘Tellthemnuttin' trained in Co. Wexford by astute handler Willie Codd, was the best supported horse of the meeting and the only horse the punters wanted to invest their money in the 7.15pm race though it was also the only horse the bookmakers wanted beat.

But no such luck for the bookies in the ring as the horse was spotted the winner from a long way from home as the jockey onboard, Dylan Robinson, was in total control and happily biding his time as the pacesetters were labouring in the front.

She was still swinging on the bridle in behind going very comfortably within herself and the jockey never even had to ask his mount for an effort as he stylishly pushed her to the front at the last to run away with the race by as much as she wanted.

After the race the pleased trainer spoke to us saying: "I'm delighted for the syndicate, they're really enthusiastic and love racing.

Hopefully she stays healthy and sound and we'll get more days out of her but she clearly looks like a striving horse capable of winning plenty more races."

‘The Jazz Singer' was making his handicap debut in a tricky race, therefore, he went off an unfancied 10/1 chance for local Downpatrick trainer Colin McBratney in the drama filed 7.45pm race but as the old saying goes, "horses don't know what odds they are" was the right wording here as the horse absolutely bolted in, under a calm and collective ride by jockey Paul Townend, who certainly rode this horse with so much confidence that the horse ultimately needed.

Coming to the second last fence he was not even sighted but then coming down the hill to the last fence with a handful of horses under him, looking the only winner and helped by his nearest pursuer coming to grief at the last to leave him out on his own, although the favourite 'Static Jack' tried to get on terms but was unable to do so, to the delight of local trainer Colin McBratney.

“hey just went a nice steady gallop, Paul said he jumped very well throughout and he has done it well," he said.

“Paul said he wasn't out of second gear and hadn't even asked him (at the final fence) and said he was cantering the whole way.

“He's a hard-little horse to get fit but there are plenty of options for him now. He will stay a novice for now to get a bit of experience and could go for a handicap at the end of the summer. He wants fast ground and has a great attitude."

Paul Townend doubled on victories on this card as in the penultimate race of the evening he took the spoils this time for upcoming trainer Garrett Power in the 8.15pm races.

He was on his reliable and consistent horse "Curragh Golan", who chased leaders for most of the race then settled in mid pack, travelled well to close before three fences out although had to be ridden into second place just before the last and then he got one final burst to stay on to challenge on the long run-in and lead close to home just before the line and the trainer, Power, was over the moon with the result.

“When he got there today he could have thrown in the towel but he fought well. He's a summer horse and we will have plenty of fun mixing in between the flat and jumps," he said.

The concluding race of the evening went the way of the well fancied Joseph O'Brien trained 'Marvellous Max' who put his racecourse experience to good use and really grinded out an improbable victory as four furlongs from home the horse looked laboured and beaten but got a second wind from somewhere to challenge the two pacesetters who were having a private duel, though 'Marvellous Max' had other ideas and breezed past them to win by an official winning margin of four lengths and the tenth winner of the month of May for in-form trainer Joseph O'Brien.

On a final note to our readers to just remind you that the June issue of our popular Irish horse racing magazine is released this Thursday and you can read it for free on our website


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