The Barry Connell-owned Sam Da Vinci belatedly opened his account under trainer’s son Danny in the Fran Murrin Memorial Maiden Hurdle, at the expense of Butney Boy.
Scrubbed along with three to jump, the 11/10 favourite was soon back on the bridle and, in front before the final flight, stayed on to score by two lengths.
“It’s amazing its taken him so long to win a race,” declared winning trainer Tony Mullins. “Danny said he hit a flat spot on the far side and he had to push him along a bit until he came back on the bridle. He’s a very sound horse, but has always lacked confidence. Hopefully, he’ll progress from this and he should make a nice staying handicap chaser.”
Earlier, the Willie Mullins-trained Dr.Schultz, a wide-margin winner of his bumper at Kilbeggan last time, proved far too good for the Ruby Walsh-ridden favourite Rossvoss in the opening Ladies Day At Downpatrick Maiden Hurdle.
Ridden by Emmet Mullins, nephew of the trainer, Dr. Schultz powered clear on the run-in to score by eight and a half lengths. The winning rider said: “He jumped great for his first time over hurdles. He was a bit blinded and missed the third last, so I made sure he had plenty of daylight at the last two.
“He jumped them well and won in great style. He’s a nice horse and should go on from here.”
Backed at some fancy prices in the morning, Bahati Boy (12/1) landed a bit of a touch for the father and son combination of trainer Jerry and 7lb. claiming amateur Paul Cosgrave in the Giltspur Scientific Maiden Hurdle, denying Willie and Emmet Mullins a double with Bowfinger, by a neck.
Trainer Cosgrave explained: “He was hard to handle when we got him and it’s taken plenty of work to get him to settle. This was his second run for us and he didn’t jump as well as the last day, probably because the ground was as fast as he’d want — he’d definitely prefer a bit of cut.”
Successful on this track last year, Daytime Dreamer swooped late to beat Hold Em Cowboy in the Win A Diamond Ring Today Handicap Hurdle.
The winner is trained by James Lambe, who was full of praise for his stepson, winning rider Liam McKenna, commenting: “The young lad gave him a super ride. This was the horse’s last chance — if he didn’t perform, he was going out in the field.
“But he loves quick ground and it’s great to win with him again.”
Ryan Treacy, rider of fourth-placed Jabus, was suspended for five race-days for failing to ride out his mount in the closing stages and losing third spot.
The Philip Rothwell-trained Bottle Rattler, winner of the bumper on this card last year, captured the Downpatrick Handicap Hurdle. Ridden by Mark Walsh, he beat Benefique by four lengths and his success was attributed to first-time cheekpieces by trainer Rothwell: “He was disappointing in Sligo and we decided to try the cheekpieces — they livened him up and he seemed to travel much better.”
In-form Davy Condon was seen to good effect on the Colin Bowe-trained mare Lily Of Killarney, which made a successful handicap debut in the Willie Murphy Jewellers Downpatrick Handicap Hurdle.
But there was sting-in-the-tail for both Condon and Adrian Heskin, rider of runner-up Friendly Society, as both picked-up two-day whip bans.