DAVID Christie looks to have a strong team of winners’ grade performers on his hands if recent weeks are anything to go by. The victory of Global Assembly (6/4 – 5/4 favourite) in the winner-of-one contest here brought his strike-rate in the northern region for the season close to 40%.
The son of Kayf Tara was acquired from Tom Keating after winning a Belclare maiden by a wide margin in the spring, and he made his first appearance in the colours of prominent owner and bookmaker Ray Nicholas, when an eye-catching runner-up to The Storyteller in open company a week earlier.
Sporting the same silks as the impressive Fairyhouse hunter chase winner Ferns Lock, the five-year-old faced a well-touted rival in Wearelongterm, a €195,000 half-brother to the 2017 Champion Bumper winner Fayonagh.
Global Assembly tracked that long-time leader and market rival throughout, but Rob James pounced approaching the last and, with a slick jump, he showed great battling tenacity to fend off the rallying runner-up to the line.
“We thought he would win coming here today,” Christie said. “He will climb the winners’ ranks in the points, and then we will look for a hunter chase with him. The track didn’t suit him, but he has overcome that here. It was a great tussle with two of the best riders there has ever been in the game.”
Former track performer January Jets (2/1 - 7/4 favourite) again proved himself to be a force to be reckoned with in the open as he recorded his second win in as many starts in recent weeks.
The Shane Wilson-owned son of Presenting has proven to be a revelation for Graham McKeever, and he has rejuvenated the eight-year-old to become a leading player in the division.
Always travelling supremely well under a confident Derek O’Connor, his move was made after the second last to hit the front, and he maintained a two-length advantage to the line to record a commanding victory over Hardline.
“His performance in Loughbrickland was excellent, it was very tacky ground today and it didn’t suit him,” O’Connor said after his 11th success of the season. “He won very comfortably in the end and travelled very well throughout.
“The long-term goal is the Foxhunters at Aintree, and there is no better man than Graham to get one ready for it.”
Patrick Turley looks to have another smart individual on his hands after The Hero Next Door (5/2 - 3/1 joint-favourite), who is owned by his wife Mary, landed the opening four-year-old maiden.
The son of Jet Away led from the drop of the flag under a polished Declan Lavery ride to secure an easier victory than the winning margin of a length and a quarter suggested, given the snug fashion of his win and his costly mistake at the last obstacle.
“We always thought a lot of him, he has always showed us lots at home and we perhaps got racing too far from home at Loughanmore on his debut,” said Lavery. “Paddy knows how to get one ready and he was impressive today; I never had an anxious moment on him. He’ll be for sale now and will go on to better things.”
STUART Crawford is no stranger to the winner’s circle and he recorded his first winner of the autumn pointing campaign courtesy of Round The Square (8/1 - 6/1) who posted a game display to land the five-year-old geldings’ maiden.
This strapping Claire Crawford-owned son of Getaway made all under an enterprising Ben Crawford ride to record a gutsy success, seeing off the persistent challenge of Gordon Elliott’s Zettabyte by a neck.
“He is a big, raw horse who needed the experience, and he has got there now,” the winning rider stated. “He is a big horse, and he jumps very well. Barry [O’Neill] came with his challenge, but this boy was game and battled the whole way to the line.”
Fingal handler Claire O’Connell also claimed her first winner of the term as O’Connell (5/1 - 7/1) stepped up markedly on his debut Loughbrickland run to stamp his authority on the field in the concluding older horses’ maiden.
Ridden with restraint, the son of Westerner proved his debut effort was a nice stepping stone for him as he showed plenty of gears and speed on just his second ever start.
The son of Westerner showed a nice turn of foot from the second last to sprint clear, with the last fence the only thing between himself and triumph. The Tom Ford and R. Peters-owned gelding went on to defeat Drumlee Brexit by two-and-a-half lengths.
“Claire’s horses seem to come on for the run, he sprinted home for me there,” said rider Paul Bannon. “He jumped brilliant, it’s a great asset to him. He beat horses that had decent bits of form here and he’s done it impressively in the end.”
OWNED and trained by Karen McNeilly, Intersky Sunset (7/4 - 2/1) got the better of the Gordon Elliott-trained Visible Attraction in the five-year-old mares’ maiden, a race which was dominated by these two principals.
Dara McGill took over the running from four out on McNeilly’s daughter of Libertarian and they were never headed from then on in, despite being eyeballed by the runner-up on the home bend, she was gusty and grinded it out to the line.
“She is a real hardy mare, I thought she would run a massive race. She was always holding on there and was going away at the finish,” McGill remarked having also been aboard the five-year-old when she had finished in front of the recent Newcastle maiden hurdle third Maggie Barrett when placed at Moira last month.
Horse To Follow
Kerryhill (C. McKeever): The Soldier Of Fortune gelding made a couple of notable jumping errors, but the penny only seemed to drop late on, eating into the winner’s advantage. It only looks a matter of time before he sheds his maiden tag.