WORKING backwards this week on the National Hunt jockey front, Tuesday’s meeting at Newcastle proved rewarding as Brian Hughes recorded a double and there were single wins apiece for Danny McMenamin and Derek Fox.

Hughes’ first winner was the Donald McCain-trained Beneficially Yours who landed the extended two and a half-mile Maiden Hurdle by 51 lengths.

The even-money favourite was having his second track start following a third-place finish first time out at Carlisle in mid-December.

Hughes also bagged two wins on Saturday at Bangor where the first was the McCain-trained 5/6 favourite Grand Albert.

This Jet Away gelding had been placed on his three previous outings for the same trainer/jockey combination, twice over hurdles and once in a bumper.

The previous day, Hughes was on the mark at Hexham where Derek Fox too was among the winners.

Second start

Hughes’ winner at the Northumberland track was the McCain-trained 8/15 favourite Galunggung who beat the Fox-ridden Fox’s Fancy by a neck. This was just a second track start for the eight-year-old who had finished second over the same two-mile trip at Kelso in January.

The Khalkevi grey ran once between the flags when trained in Ireland by Donnchadh Doyle, dead-heating for first in a five-year-old geldings’ maiden at Kirkistown in May 2021.

Downpatrick native David Maxwell has had some good rides recently on five of his horses, all of whom are in the care of different trainers.

The one who had his head in front when it counted was the Venetia Williams-trained In D’Or who landed the two-mile, five-furlong Full Circle Series at Punchestown Festival Handicap Hurdle at Ludlow last Thursday week and was due to run again at Fontwell on Thursday just gone.

On the flat, there were wins for Darragh Keenan at Wolverhamton on Saturday, for Paddy Mathers at Doncaster on Sunday and for Dylan Browne McMonagle at Dundalk on Tuesday.

Baie strikes for Crawfords

LARNE’s Stuart Crawford trained his first winner at Newbury last Saturday when I Love My Baie landed the Bet In-Play On Racing With BetVictor Novices’ Handicap Hurdle at odds of 22/1.

This was a third win over hurdles for Simon Munir and Isaac Souede’s six-year-old Crillon gelding who also has a first-time-out Perth bumper victory to his credit. The French-bred bay was ridden on Saturday by J.J. Slevin who was standing in for the sidelined Daryl Jacob.

The previous evening there were wins at Dundalk for trainers Noel Kelly and Andy Oliver.

The former sent out John O’Hagan’s Darkened, an eight-year-old Dark Angel gelding, to land the extended 10-furlong Sky Bet Club Handicap on his third start for the yard while, roughly 30 minutes later, Francis Campbell’s colours were carried to victory in the Sky Bet Build A Bet Handicap by Squire Danagher.

The Australia four-year-old also won on his previous outing at the Co Louth track at the end of January after which he was gelded.

On the flat breeding front there was yet another win for the Brian and Ann Marie Kennedy-bred five-year-old mare Pepsi Cat (Tamayuz – Music Pearl, by Oratorio) at Newcastle on Saturday evening and for the Eileen and Noel Heanan-owned and bred five-year-old gelding Bungle Inthedesert (Bungle Inthejungle – Dubai Pearl, by Refuse To Bend) at Dundalk on Tuesday evening.

Over jumps, there were wins for the Emlyn Patterson-bred 10-year-old gelding Rumble B (Presenting – John’s Eliza, by Dr Massini) at Hexham on Friday, for the Colm McDonnell-bred eight-year-old gelding Neon Moon (No Risk At All – Hidden Horizons, by Winged Love) at Newbury the same afternoon and for the Graham Morrow-bred six-year-old gelding Classic Maestro (Jet Away – Shantelle Line, by Shantou) at Exeter on Monday.

Al Boum makes excellent dressage debut

NOT too many readers will know this but the former Willie Mullins-trained, Marie Donnelly-owned Al Boum Photo was in action in Northern Ireland last Saturday as he made his debut in Dressage Ireland company at the Northern Region’s winter finals show at Danescroft.

Winner of the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2019 and 2020, the 2018 Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase, four consecutive runnings of the Listed/Grade 3 Savills Chase at Tramore on New Year’s Day (2019 to 2022), the Grade 2 Easter Festival Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse in 2017 and three other races, the French-bred gelding last ran in May 2022 when he pulled up in the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris at Auteuil.

The bay’s retirement from racing was announced shortly afterwards and the son of Buck’s Boum, then joined the Co Meath yard of Louise Duffy who has successfully evented other ex-Mullins trained chasers such as Assessed and Arvika Ligeonniere.

In fact, it was because she needed a qualifying score for ‘Arvika’ to compete in next Saturday’s Dressage Ireland national winter finals that Duffy travelled north last weekend. Now 19 years of age, ‘Arvika’ achieved his goal at Danescroft and is one of 18 entries in the Novice Category 2 championship at the Mullingar Equestrian Centre.

Excellent debut

The 12-year-old Al Boum Photo lined out in one of Saturday’s Preliminary classes where he was awarded an excellent debut score of 68.46% while the overall winner, Scarborough Fair, was on 70.38.

Also in the class, where he achieved a score of 68.08, was the long-retired Polish Partisan, a now 17-year-old Pilsudski gelding who won a Sligo bumper in July 2012 when trained by Tony Mulholland.

Al Boum Photo is due to compete in a working hunter class at Killossery Lodge Stud tomorrow, Sunday. Plans for his eventing career are up in the air as the weather has so badly affected the start of the Eventing Ireland season but he could line out at Tyrella 3 on Saturday, April 20th.

Fibrus add fizz to Family day at Down Royal

REFFERED to briefly in last week’s column, details have since been received regarding the new family day meeting at Down Royal, on Sunday, April 14th, and its title sponsor, Fibrus, the full fibre broadband provider.

With something for everyone, families will be able to enjoy a day of National Hunt racing, combined with children’s entertainment including bouncy castles, face painters, balloon modellers, a petting farm and more.

A first-time sponsor at Down Royal, Fibrus is an award-winning company first established in Northern Ireland which is on a mission to bring fibrefast full fibre broadband to rural homes and businesses across the United Kingdom.

Commenting on the sponsorship Dominic Kearns, CEO at Fibrus said: “Fibrus is delighted to be sponsoring the inaugural Fibrus Family Race Day at Down Royal.

“As well as being our introduction to the world of horse racing, this is a brand-new fixture for Down Royal and we’re thrilled to be a part of such an exciting partnership. We’re looking forward to seeing families come together and enjoy a day of excitement, laughter and cherished memories all while watching some fantastic horse racing.”

Kathryn Holland, Commercial Manager at Down Royal, added: “We’re excited to inspire the next generation of horse racing fans by encouraging people of all ages to attend our new family fixture. This is part of our wider strategy to safeguard the future of horse racing in Northern Ireland.

“We want to showcase the vibrant atmosphere of our racecourse to all, therefore with general admission, children under 14 can attend for free with a ticket-holding adult, offering great value for money. We look forward to welcoming Fibrus to the racecourse this April, and we hope families from across the region can join us for this special race day.”

Best wishes to Bryan

IT was very disappointing, but not too surprising, to learn that the East Antrim point-to-points scheduled for Loughanmore today and Monday had been cancelled as the track was unfit for racing following all the heavy rain.

We know that as he continues his recovery, our good friend Bryan Gault would have been keen to hear all the stories surrounding the two-day meeting but hope that he does enjoy following the racing in Ireland, Britain and further afield over the Easter period.