AT a track where he has enjoyed so many memorable days, Gordon Elliott enjoyed another at Down Royal as he rattled off a four-timer which began with the vastly improved Shesadream in the Pat O’Hare Bookmaker Mares Hurdle.
One of two winners to carry the colours of Pioneer Racing, this five-year-old daughter of Flemensfirth showed ability in bumpers, but two runs over hurdles have made her a revelation. Eight days previously at Limerick, she floored a 2/9 shot, and she claimed another notable scalp here in the shape of the Scottish Champion Hurdle winner Anna Bunina.
Jack Kennedy and Shesadream moved past the market leader coming to the second last and then found plenty after the final flight to contain Anna Bunina’s rally by a length and three-parts.
“She wouldn’t do anything fancy at home but she’s just a different mare since she went jumping and she’s progressive. She likes decent ground so we’ll keep her going for the summer and hopefully she could be one for some nice mares’ races later in the season,” said Elliott.
Kennedy was also on hand to partner the other Pioneer-owned winner which came in the shape of Bravo Team (7/2) in the Franco Hughes Away Bet Handicap Hurdle over two and a half miles.
This six-year-old hadn’t been at his best in two runs since winning a maiden at Clonmel on heavy ground in early March but in first-time cheekpieces, he turned in a career best effort. Bravo Team was travelling strongly in the lead coming away from three out and was unfaltering at all stages as he crossed the line eight lengths ahead of Guiri.
“He’s been showing the right signs at home and for a big horse he likes that ground. At some point he will have a break to come back chasing next spring but he’ll stay on the go for a while,” declared the trainer.
“It’s great for the owners. It’s a good syndicate, very well run and it’s taken a couple of years to get them on their feet, but we’re getting there now.”
Mardi makes it four
The Last Mardi (11/8) supplied the concluding leg of the Elliott four-timer in the Peter Eastwood (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race.
Owned by his breeder Sheila O’Ryan and Tom and Lenka Meagher, The Last Mardi was following up his win in a Ballinrobe bumper two months previously. The five-year-old responded well to Harry Swan’s promptings to take the measure of Miss Fourie as the last furlong loomed and he went on to defeat that rival by three-parts of a length.
“He’s a nice horse who has shown a good level of form in his three runs and I think there is more in him,” stated Elliott. “I’ll talk to the owners about what they’d like to do. We could go hurdling but I think he’s good enough for some of those amateur riders’ races on the flat.”
Banks Boy was the other Elliott inmate to collect in the Northern Ireland On-Course Bookmakers Maiden Hurdle over an extended two miles.
The Ann Marie McManus-owned gelding was a somewhat disappointing favourite on his last two starts, but he was most unlucky not to win a Navan handicap hurdle during the winter and was restored to that sort of form.
The 8/11 favourite had to contend with a strong late challenge from Champ De Gane, but he raised his effort under pressure on the run-in to score by just under two lengths.
“He probably wants further but this looked a nice opportunity. He deserved to win after being unlucky at Navan earlier in the year and he might be one to head across the water for a novice hurdle,” reported the trainer.
ROSS O’Sullivan has a promising filly on his hands in Champella (100/30) who progressed from a second in a bumper here on the opening day of the season to land the Bet With Carlin (Pro/Am) Fillies INH Flat Race for four-year-olds.
A third winner on the track for amateur Tom Harney, this daughter of Champs Elysees was travelling smoothly when striking the front inside the last quarter of a mile and she stuck to her task nicely over the course of the last furlong to hold off the eye-catching newcomer Love At Sea by a length.
“She’s not flashy but she had done a few bits of nice work before she ran. We felt she would improve from that first run and thankfully she did,” observed the rider who was sporting the colours of the Sarsfields Racing Syndicate. “I’m with Ross almost five years. The yard is getting bigger each year and the quality of horse getting better and it’s a great place to be.”
The Irish Grand National-winning duo of Dermot McLoughlin and Paddy O’Hanlon combined for a 16/1 winner when Dovlator pounced late in the Hugo Hughes Bookmaker Opportunity Maiden Hurdle.
The complexion of this race changed markedly late on as Bout Time Bobby faltered badly after a mistake two out which handed the initiative to Kelly’s Birr, but that was one was then collared close home by Dovlator who reached the line with just under four lengths to spare. Dovlator was progressing from a respectable debut at Downpatrick a couple of weeks previously. He is owned by Fidelma Toole.
A great run for Paul Flynn continued when The Grey Lad picked up the 80-102 rated Danny Boy Bookmaker Handicap Hurdle under Gary Noonan. The well-supported 9/4 favourite registered a five-and-a-half-length victory over Wild Caprice to return to the form that saw him lose out by just a neck in a Naas handicap hurdle in late March.
“Gary gave him a great ride but I am sorry for Barry Browne who has done all the work with this horse, but he had to go to Tramore for his boss. I think he was entitled to win on his Naas run,” remarked Flynn.