DOUBLES for Ross Crawford, Stephen Connor and Dara McGill were the highlight of the Co. Down Staghounds meeting at Gortnamoney Farm, Moira, as racegoers were treated to good racing despite the showery weather.

Spice Diva (5/1) was the opening leg of a double for Crawford and Connor in the mares’ maiden. In a race run at a strong gallop, the daughter of Arcadio needed every yard of the trip as she wore down the long-time leader Lady Corrib close home to win by a neck.

“We’ll probably go to the track with her,” said winning handler Ross Crawford of the David Laverty-owned six-year-old. “The boys that have her are breeders and they bred her. I would imagine we’d go for a wee mares’ maiden hurdle.”

The pair had to wait for the last to bring up the double as Annaghbeg continued his progression through the grades with a smooth success in the winners’ of two.

Carrying the colours of his handler, the five-year-old Conduit gelding was recording a third win on the bounce and scored by eight lengths.

Golden De Coeur had brought the field along at a strong gallop and was well clear by the halfway mark. However the pursuing pack reeled him in before two out where Annaghbeg and Connor took it up. Ballybentragh and Getaway Lodge gave chase but could make no impression and had to settle for the placings.

“He’ll go to the sales,” Crawford said. “He is three from three now and I was trying to put his value back on him before we went so I know what he is worth. He’ll probably head to Doncaster.”

Another horse to book their ticket for the Doncaster sales at the end of the month was the Warren Ewing-owned and trained Mount Wilson (3/1 - 5/2) as he took the older geldings’ maiden to give Dara McGill a double on the day.

The six-year-old Telescope gelding had two previous placings to his name and he shed his maiden tag with the minimum of fuss.

Always prominent and jumping well, he was clear before the last and was a snug two-and-a-half-length winner from Tareefa Boy.

“He might go for a maiden hunter chase before he heads to the sale,” Ewing said. “He has taken awhile to get his head in front but did that well. He’ll end up in Doncaster and he is a good fun horse.”

El Granjero reigns as Murphy hits 70

THE opening four-year-old maiden saw a field of 13 go to post and it was a race run at an end-to-end gallop producing a tight finish with a photo-finsh being called in order to separate Feeling Festive and El Granjero (7/1).

The verdict went the way of the Peter Flood-owned and trained El Granjero under a fine ride from Luke Murphy, registering a 70th career success in the process.

The bay son of Youmzain was patiently ridden and showed signs of greenness. When Brian Lawless and Feeling Festive made their move two out, it looked like they would win decisively, but Murphy got his mount organised in the home straight, flew the last with a good jump and nabbed victory right on the line by a head.

El Granjero had cost connections €42,000 at the Tattersalls Derby Sale and he is now set to return to the sales ring as Flood stated: “He took a bit of time but always showed plenty. We always liked him, and we were nearly going to leave him till the autumn, but he was working so well. He’ll head to the sales now.”

The five-year-old geldings’ maiden was also won by a newcomer that is bound for the sales, as the Noel Kelly-trained I Can Only Imagine (3/1 - 2/1 favourite) was well supported in the betting ring and he never gave his supporters an anxious moment as he travelled smoothly throughout and scored by a snug two lengths.

In the colours of Shauna Kelly, the five-year-old was ridden with supreme confidence by Dara McGill. Dropped right in off an honest pace, he made stylish progress to lead after two out as he saw off Largy Pearl and Primitic.

The Malinas gelding is held in high regard by his trainer, and he didn’t hide it. “He is very classy and as good as I have,” Kelly said. “He’ll probably be a better horse on better ground, but he is a fine horse. We’ll sell him now.”

Sixth win for Bold Enough

THE dominance of Bold Enough (2/5 favourite) is commonplace this season and David Christie’s winning machine added win number six for the season in the open.

Partnered by Bertie Finn as had been the case eight days previously at Fairyhouse, the pair settled behind the leaders for most of the trip before making their move four fences out.

The open debutant Stranger Danger went with him to the second last, and for a moment it looked like the favourite might have a battle on his hands, however his class and race fitness told as Finn and Bold Enough asserted before the last to score by three lengths.

Stranger Danger having his first start in 686 days was a gallant second with Er Dancer back in third.

The Ray Nicholas-owned Jeremy gelding could further add to his open tally before the season ends as Christie stated: “We’ll sneak in another one. He is taking it well and is happy and while it’s making him happy, we will keep running him, we do very little with him at home and he is an ideal horse to do this with.”

Horse to Follow

Feeling Festive

(M. Flynn O’Connor):

Looked like he had done everything right and was set to make a winning debut.

A slight mistake at the last didn’t help him as his rival got a better jump and just nabbed him on the line. A maiden success will be a formality if or when he returns pointing.