ALL roads led to the Causeway Coast on Saturday for the re-scheduled Portrush meeting which saw handler Donnchadh Doyle unleash an exciting newcomer at the Route Hunt-sanctioned fixture on the grounds of Ian McMaw in the form of Worldwide Fury (7/4-9/4F). He hinted that a prosperous track career awaits by taking the opening four-year-old maiden in majestic fashion.

The strapping son of Jukebox Jerry was acquired by his connections for €70,000 at Goffs last year and was sent off as favourite with his large reputation made known.

The gelding who is a half-brother to Gordon Elliott’s Grade 1 winner Fury Road initiated a double for his rider Brian Lawless on what was his 10th winner of the season.

Peter Flood’s Storming Nelson, who is a full-brother to Thyme Hill took the five debutants along at a decent clip with the winner waited with under his confident rider in fourth for much of the running. The Monbeg Syndicate-owned gelding made his move before two-out, producing a taking turn of foot to kick into a handy advantage approaching the last, keeping on strongly under hands and heels on the flat, with two-lengths to spare over the Warren Ewing-handled Tough Approach at the line.

“He has been showing us an awful lot at home, and we have always really liked him,” said Graham Breen, representing the absent winning handler. “He quickened up well and Brian [Lawless] has given him a very strong ride. He looks the type to progress into the real deal on the track and he will now go to the sales at the Aintree Festival in a few weeks’ time.”

It was the Peter Croke-handled Carrig Kate (4/1 - 7/2 joint-favourite) who provided Lawless with his brace in the mares’ maiden.


The imposing daughter of Westerner had run three very solid races thus far in her career, most notably when a close fourth to the useful Spindleberry at Dromahane back in December. The Maurice Sheehy-owned and bred five-year-old mare always travelled like the winner to the penultimate last, and soon booted into a clear advantage at the last, with eight lengths the winning margin back to All Love Up.

“She is a very nice mare, we always thought she would put her head in front. The race didn’t go to plan the last day, but she had the potential and has shown it out there today,” said the Wicklow native Lawless.

“She will make a lovely type on the track; she stays all day and has a big engine.”

The star attraction Winged Leader (1/4 - 2/7 favourite) dominated in the open, a race which only saw three runners go to post.

David Christie’s grand servant made this his eight open win of his career by making all under a confident Barry O’Neill. The outsider of the trio, Walkers Point, pulled-up before five-out leaving a match to unfold.

A push of the button before two-out saw the favourite effortlessly gallop into a clear unsailable advantage and with his only other rival Saint D’Oroux under pressure in behind, a slick jump at the last sealed a 27 and a half-length victory for the top class nine-year-old who is currently 3/1 ante-post favourite to add the Aintree Foxhunters’ Chase to his dazzling career in two weeks’ time.

“I suppose he’s not that ground dependant, so we weren’t worried about the surface today. We always thought he was an Aintree horse so it would be brilliant for him to show his class out there,” said David Christie Jnr on what his father’s 13th victory of the term.

“He is the sort of horse who needs two or three runs to get him at his peak, so he will improve again for this.”

Neo King delivers for McKeever and McGill

LOUGHANMORE-based Colin McKeever’s rich vein of form continued as he sent out Neo King (8/1 - 10/1) to effortlessly take the five-year-old geldings’ maiden.

The 11-runner race had a very open look to it, with the winner sent off friendless in the market to the delight of the on-course bookmakers. The son of Coastal Path who had previously disappointed in his two career starts when failing to complete, travelled ominously well here, with a new set of tactics adapted, as he raced handily throughout under a confident Oran McGill.

The Wilson Dennison-owned gelding found an extra gear on the home bend to take a share of the lead approaching the second last. A slick jump here allowed him to extend into a clear lead and had eight lengths to spare at the last over the newcomer Idefeel Du Livet, with the winning margin extending on the run-in.

Noel McParlan recorded his ninth winner of the season when teaming-up with the Ger Quinn-handled Knocky (5/4 - 6/4) in the two-runner winners’ of-two.

The son of Watar, who won his maiden at Taylorstown back in April last year, was sent off as second favourite in the match to oblige for his owner James Kerr.

The gelding led early and was headed five-out but found an extra gear to lead again at two-out, lengthening with every stride and soon in command. 55 lengths was called as the winning margin over the odds-on favourite I See You Now who disappointed in second.

Well regarded River

Box strikes for Mooney

LOCAL handler Paul McAleese sent out his second winner the season as River Box (5/2-11/4), the form selection in the six-year-old and upwards maiden, produced a sparkling display to strike for his owner and breeder John Mooney.

The son of Arcadio had finished behind two useful rivals on his third career start at Broughshane back in May last year and was well supported in the market to oblige on his return.

The gelding tracked the leaders throughout and made stylish progress from before two-out to lead under a confident Brian Barry, and quickly extended into a clear lead at the last over the staying on Forkhill.

The six-year-old is clearly well regarded by his connections and should have no problem in climbing the winners ranks this year.

Horse to Follow

Tough Approach (W. Ewing): A newcomer son of Milan made most of the running before the last only going down by two lengths to a smart looking recruit. The €47,000 Tattersalls graduate should develop into a track winner.