THE Down Royal Corporation of Horse Breeders sponsored the two hunters’ chases at Downpatrick last Friday evening and there would have been much celebrating all round when the first of these, a maiden over just short of three miles, was won by Gorthill.

The French-bred gelding, a seven-year-old son of Rail Link, is trained in Dromara by Caroline McCaldin for her husband Alan who was one of the many who lined up for the winning photograph as did, naturally enough, Caroline, Noel McParlan who rode Gorthill and Trevor Woodside who led him up.

Others include Caroline and Alan’s daughter Anna, the trainer’s sister Katrina Mackie, her son William and his girlfriend Charlotte, Niall McCarthy and Tory Jewiss. Also photographed are Caroline and Katrina’s father Wilson Dennison, who was honoured later in the day, and his good friend Ian Ferguson.

Sixth winner

Gorthill, whose two wins in point-to-points came this season at Moira in October and at Tyrella in January, was a sixth winner on the track for McCaldin.

Trained in Co Sligo by Mark McNiff, the five-year-old Getaway mare Big Girl Betty, who was making her racecourse debut after just two starts between the flags, was four lengths back in second.

Having started the meeting by winning the Joe Rea Memorial Hurdle with the 8/11 favourite Williamstowndancer, who was having her first race over jumps, trainer Willie Mullins and his son Patrick combined to land the featured extended three and a half-mile hunters’ chase with Billaway. Northern trainers David Christie and Noel Kelly had to settle for second and third with the 4/6 favourite Vaucelet and Shantou Show.

Co Derry-born Jody McGarvey had just the one ride at the meeting but his journey paid off when, on his chasing debut, Lakefield Flyer justified 7/2 favouritism in the Remembering Caughoo Beginners Chase where he beat the Christie-trained Ask The Leader by two and three-quarter lengths. En route to Auteuil, trainer Shark Hanlon watched this race in an Irish pub in Chantilly – as one does!


The one locally-bred winner on the card was Tick Along who, getting in as first reserve and having her first start in nearly a year, landed the Earlybird Opportunity Handicap Hurdle at odds of 25/1.

Trained by Tom McCourt and ridden by Tommy Reilly, the nine-year-old Tikkanen mare was bred by John Kidd and is the first of five recorded foals out of the unraced Tamayaz mare Pamalee, a half-sister to the multiple blacktype winners Promalee (by Homo Sapien) and Michael Mor (by Denel). Pamalee is also dam of the winners Cillians Charm (by Sageburg) and Sula Warrior (by Winged Love).

The race names on Friday’s card also included the Frank & Brian Fitzsimmons Memorial Flat Race which went the way of the Harry Swan-ridden 1/2 favourite, The Wallpark.

This five-year-old Ask gelding was having his sixth start in total but his first for Gordon Elliott who was bringing up a double on the day.

He is out of the hurdle-winning Alderimli (by Alderbrook), a half-sister to Blow By Blow out of a half-sister to Cooldine. In a 22-race career, she ran twice at Downpatrick and six times at Down Royal where she won a handicap hurdle for the Philip Rothwell yard in May 2013.

The Brian Hamilton-trained Mount Gallion, who was having his first racecourse start on Friday following three well spread-out runs in point-to-points, finished third under Oran McGill.

The Stuart Crawford-trained, Sean McElroy-bred Meranti was fourth, a head in front of the McCaldin-trained Ballybit.

Imp and Sarah are quick off the mark

AS the local point-to-point season had concluded seven days earlier, Warren Ewing’s head girl Sarah Sproule was able to go eventing last Saturday and made the most of the opportunity by winning the EPS EI90 class at Hazeldene Farm, Ballynahinch, on her own Irish Sport Horse mare Ballyneety Cavalier Imp.

This was a first start under Eventing Ireland rules for the five-year-old Cavalier Land bay but Sarah didn’t devote her whole day to the mare.

“My dressage wasn’t on ‘til 11.42 so I was in the yard in the morning riding breakers for Warren.”

To make way for new horses, Ewing has to sell others and Sarah didn’t have much time after her win to celebrate as she had to head off to the Spring Sales in Doncaster.

High bidders

Talking of sales, North of Ireland-born bloodstock agent Kerri Radcliffe was among the high bidders at Fasig Tipton this week when, on behalf of London-based client JDL Capital Sarl, she gave $1 million for an Arrogate filly at the May two-year-olds in training sale.

Married to North of Ireland-born former champion US jumps jockey Paddy Young, Pennsylvania-based trainer Leslie Young added to her list of recent imports when agent Hamish Macauley gave £100,000 at the Tattersalls Cheltenham May Sale for the four-year-old Grennan maiden winner Irelands Call.