IT was a pity that there were no northern-trained winners over the two days of the Down Royal Festival last Friday and Saturday but it was great to see so many people enjoying themselves. Fans of the Gordon Elliott yard would have had little complaint about the results.

The Co Meath trainer is a great supporter of both northern racecourses and, although he no longer trains Saturday’s winner Envoi Allen, he did saddle the Muhtathir gelding to win his maiden hurdle and his beginners’ chase at the track.


While the fashionista were delighted to see the return of the best dressed lady competition at Saturday’s meeting, racing professionals were pleased that Dr Emma Clinics also sponsored the two-mile, one-furlong handicap hurdle.

This was won by the Elliott-trained, Jack Kennedy-ridden Eskylane, a 2014 Flemensfirth gelding who began his career at Loughanmore, where he was trained for Wilson Dennison by Colin McKeever, and won his maiden at Broughshane on the fifth time of asking.


Another Loughanmore graduate to win in the period under review was the Elliott-trained Braeside who landed the Paddy Power Cork Grand National Handicap Chase last Sunday at odds of 16/1. The seven-year-old Presenting gelding failed to win in five starts between the flags but was fourth twice, third once and second twice in the spring and autumn of 2018 and cost Aidan O’Ryan and Elliott £105,000 at the Tattersalls Cheltenham November Sale that year.

More currently on the point-to-point scene, Derrylin trainer David Christie and Oran McGill again successfully joined forces last Sunday at Rathcannon when winning the novice riders’ open with Kieran Mahon and Noel Keenan’s nine-year-old Ask gelding, On The Sod.

Winged Love

The four-year-old Maxios gelding The Mediator, impressive winner on his debut of the Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council INH Flat Race at Down Royal last Friday for the Gordon Elliott yard, was one of two winners that afternoon out of mares by Winged Love.

The other was the Alan King-trained five-year-old Shantou gelding Harbour Lake who, roughly 20 minutes later, landed the concluding two-mile bet365 Novices’ Hurdle at Wetherby where he too was having his first start, in the colours of the late Trevor Hemmings.

Harbour Lake was bred by Patricia Duffin and is the second of five recorded foals out of the four-time winning, Grade 2-placed Aibrean. The mare’s first foal was Aurelia Or, a 2015 full-brother to Harbour Lake, who has been placed three times from six starts for Emma Lavelle.

The pair have a 2017 unnamed full-sister and half-sisters by Kalanisi (2019) and Poet’s Word (2021).

From the family of Another Rum, Barton and Katabatic, Aibrean is a half-sister to the Alflora gelding Fine Rightly whose nine wins included two in bumpers (one at Grade 2 level), two over hurdles (in which sphere he was Grade 2-placed) and five over fences including a trio of Grade 3 chases. He was also placed at Grade 1 and 2 level.