Chiltern gets off the mark

Ruby Walsh delighted a huge crowd at new-look Sligo yesterday when scoring on his only ride, Chiltern Hills, in the featured Kilcawley Construction Sligo Mares Handicap Hurdle.

The Willie Mullins-trained mare, sent off 2/1 favourite, opened her account over hurdles by beating Miss Xian and Girlie’sdream, prompting the six-times champion to comment: “It’s good to win with her. She has struggled to get her head in front. She’s jumping a lot better, which is a big help.”

Alan Crowe emerged with the riding honours, thanks to a double on the Christy Roche-trained Sitcom, a fortunate winner of the opening Irish Stallion Farms Hurdle after longtime leader Dr. Machini fluffed the final flight, and Christy Donoghue’s The Two Jays, which landed the Guinness Handicap Hurdle.

The colours of J P McManus, successful with Sitcom, were back in the winner’s enclosure when Blow The Doors Off (Mikey Fogarty) won the bumper in convincing style. Winning trainer Conor O’Dwyer said: “He’s very laid-back and I haven’t had him long. But he won well and, after a summer’s grass, should be a horse to look forward to.”

The new season’s leading rider, claimer Declan Lavery notched his fourth win of the campaign when 8/11 favourite Honey Bach, trained by Brian Hamilton, overcame some sketch jumping to pip market rival Norah Starr by a nose in the mares maiden hurdle.

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