THERE was some cracking racing at last Saturday’s East Down meeting, where the seaside track of Tyrella hosted its second meet of 2024.

Dry conditions at the end of last week brought about yielding underfoot conditions, and this nicer ground seemed to be the decisive factor bringing about much improvement in several horses’ form.

Caroline McCaldin saddled her second double of the season, replicating the same feat that she achieved at this track back in January.

The impressive Slievehill (1/4 - 1/3 favourite) initiated the opening leg of the double, bounding to a wide-margin victory in the winners’ of two contest under the guidance of Noel McParlan.

This towering son of Kayf Tara is quite the spectacle to watch as he sets off at a merciless gallop and puts distance between himself and the remainder of the field as he lengthens down to his fences with ease.

The Colin Bowe-trained Divilskin began to chase down the victor going out on the final circuit, and he briefly looked like throwing down a challenge on the entrance to the home straight, however, those efforts were soon brushed aside as Slievehill effortlessly opened up on the run to the final fence, to win by 43 lengths eased down.

Ballybrittas (5/4 favourite) also repeated his January maiden success at the venue to land the adjacent hunt winners’ contest.

Five horses headed to post, of which the only other previous winner in the field was the Gerald Quinn-trained Voleur De Terres who ultimately took the runner-up spot.

Upped the tempo

McParlan upped the tempo on Voleur De Terres as they entered the back straight on the final circuit to try and make use of his mare’s stamina, however Ballybrittas’ superior speed prevailed as he won by four and a half lengths for Oran McGill in the colours of Wilson Dennison.

“I’m thrilled both horses were able to back up their previous wins here,” McCaldin said. “Slieve is just phenomenal, although slightly nerve-wracking to watch. Ballybrittas is a lovely progressive sort, both horses came from my father’s and will continue in winners’ ranks. The yard is in great form.”

Derek O’Connor is another handler enjoying a rich vein for form of late and he added the four-year-old maiden on the card aboard Baldwin The Brave (2/1 - 4/6 favourite) to defeat City Of Diamonds by two and a half lengths.

“He is a lovely horse, he was bought in the Land Rover sale off Denis Cummins, he recommended him prior to us, and I really appreciated Denis’ input on the horse,” O’Connor said of the horse that carried the colours of his wife Carol.

“He is a really nice sort who is going to head to Donald McCain’s to be trained.”

Brew puts best foot forward

GORDON Elliot and Harry Swan are always a combination to be feared, and they brought the best form to the table in the five and six-year-old mares’ contest as the Crocodile Pockets Syndicate’s Ocean Brew (5/4 - 6/4 favourite) made amends for her final-fence mishap at Ballycrystal in February.

A €46,000 Goffs purchase, this daughter of Westerner travelled and jumped professionally in mid-division, she was asked for her effort to close on eventual runner-up Annie Don from the back of two out.

There was little to separate the pair from the top of the home straight until the eventual winner edged into a slender advantage on the outer approaching the last, and she stayed on gamely to score by a neck in what was one of the day’s closest finishes.

Gone With The Tide (6/1) landed the opening division of the five and six-year-old geldings’ maiden under Barry Stone, a victory that he was handed at the last when the long-time leader Bold Fury crashed out.

This son of Affinisea then held off the challenge of runner-up Bold Recruit by two and a half lengths. “My sister Linda [Butler] owns him; he was bought from the Tattersalls May sale back in 2022 for €8,000. He is a real genuine sort; we ran him at Ballinaboola, he needed the run and came on for it here,” O’Brien said of his first winner of the season.

“He was maybe a bit lucky with the faller in front of him at the last, but he was certainly in touch. Future plans are undecided.”

The Ian McCarthy-trained Our Shane (4/1 - 6/1) jumped fluently throughout to hold off the challenge of Dark Soldier to land the second division for a delighted owner-breeder Gary O’Hagan.

‘He’s a Kalanisi homebred, he went to Ian’s in July, and he ran in Kirkistown three weeks ago, but the ground was too heavy. Thank goodness he’s made it today!” O’Hagan said.

“I have a Court Cave three-year-old out of the same mare. I’m 20 years waiting on this winner so I don’t know what the future will be I’m just absolutely delighted to get my first winner, and Eoin [Mahon] gave him a great ride, this was his first time sitting on him.”

Powell gets first past the post

IT was a memorable day for 20-year-old Eoin Powell as he recorded his first success aboard his own Hymie Weiss (5/2 - 4/1) in the older maiden for novice riders.

He fought off a strong challenge from the Brian Hamilton-trained Some Bro to score by a neck. Winning handler Liam Lennon stated: “This was Eoin’s first winner I’m delighted for him, he is a brilliant young lad. I found him this horse out of Noel Meade’s, and he’s been great to get him going.”

Powell added: “That was my eighth ride, I’m thrilled to get the win as he’s been competitive the past few weeks. I was flat out the whole way, but he jumps for fun and stayed on so well down the straight.

“I’ll hopefully get a spin around Downpatrick in a maiden hunters’ chase on him now as I got my license upgraded yesterday. I am in Liam’s every day, it’s some craic in there and I’ve learnt loads!”

Horse to Follow

Bold Fury (W. R. Crawford): was in pole position on the approach to the last and crashed out when still going well under Thomas Kileff. He stepped forward from his previous effort, and compensation should await this pair in the coming weeks.