Already a course and distance winner this year, Bachelor Lad again adopted a front-running role in the three-runner affair, for which the Gordon Elliott trained Atlanta Falcon was sent off a red-hot 30/100 favourite.
But Jason Maguire was sending out distress signals on the favourite soon after the third last, leaving 25/1 shot Bold Apache to mount the only challenge to O’Connell’s mount in the closing stages.
A length and a half separated the pair at the line and, having completed his second double, McBratney said: “There must have been something wrong with him the last day.
“I don’t know what happened but he likes it around here and he might go for a handicap now before he goes chasing.”
McBratney had initiated his double when well-backed favourite Nodelay, ridden by Andrew McNamara, gained an overdue win in the opening One Day At A Time Mares Maiden Hurdle at the expense of longshot Derg Princess.
The trainer commented: “She deserved that. She’s been knocking on the door and her experience was a big help around here. She’ll probably run in the listed mares race in Listowel now.”
Claimer Eddie O’Connell completed his double, and brought his seasonal tally to an impressive eighteen, when the Sean Thornton trained Street Runner took the Keeping It Country Handicap Hurdle.
Out of luck earlier, Gordon Elliott salvaged one winner from the day when Court Lexi justified odds-on favouritism in the bumper
Ridden by Nina Carberry, the four-year-old filly was making it third-time-lucky — both in her career and around Downpatrick — and looked an assured winner when nearest rival Savello swerved slightly and unseated his rider before the home-turn, with more than a furlong to race.
Court Lexi stayed on to triumph by twelve lengths, prompting a relieved Elliott to comment: “She hit the crossbar twice here and deserved a change of luck. I think she’ll have a break now and will come back over hurdles.”
Mark Bolger notched his third win of the season when the John McConnell trained Charger defied top-weight in the Nashville Handicap Hurdle, the five-year-old, owned by the Any News Syndicate, making all and staying on stoutly up the hill to beat Tipper Road by a length.
Like McConnell, trainer Colm Murphy was not present to see the Mikey Fogarty ridden Luna Runner open her account in the Hugo Duncan Raceday Maiden Hurdle, beating Mighty Snazy by three-quarters of a length.