A former track winner, Slippers Percy (7/2 – 3/1) took up the running for Barry O’Neill at the sixth of the 15 obstacles and the combination made the rest of the running. Whilst none too clever four out, Slippers Percy was clearly containing market-leader Backstage from the penultimate obstacle with eight lengths duly separating the pair. Fairwood Bob returned a further 12 lengths adrift in third spot.
“We will run him in a few more points and then go for some of the bigger hunter chasers. If things keep going according to plan, he could hopefully be a Cheltenham Foxhunter horse”, said Christie of Slippers Percy, owned by Ray Nicholas from Belfast in partnership with Enniskillen hotelier Rodney Watson.
Backstage’s handler Gordon Elliot didn’t leave empty-handed for the former Aintree Grand National winning trainer struck with ex-hurdler Pumped Up Kicks (5/4), the only winning favourite on the seven-race card, in the five and six-year-old mares’ maiden.
Pumped Up Kicks dug deep for Steven Clements from the final fence to overtake long-time leader Gold Credit inside the final 50 yards to oblige by a length.
It appeared that racegoers were in for a gripping finish in the first division of the four-year-old maiden as Onderun was joined just before the final fence by the sweet-travelling Border Breaker.
Unfortunately, Onderun unseated here as Joey Casey’s newcomer Border Breaker (5/1), an attractive son of Indian Danehill, eased clear for an authoritative six-length success in the hands of ‘Corky’ Carroll.
The Onderun combination of handler Sean Thomas Doyle and rider Ciaran Fennessy hadn’t to wait long for compensation as the giant-sized newcomer Sleepy Eye (7/1) landed the second instalment of this same contest.
Sharon Dunphy’s debutant Elfego Baca, undoubtedly the main horse to take from the entire meeting, made his way to the front at the fourth last and it was only inside the dying strides that he was overtaken by last year’s victorious Goffs Land Rover sale graduate with the ultimate winning margin being a half-length.
Embryonic chaser Adamstown (7/1), now trained by Ian Ferguson for Wilson Dennison, supplemented last autumn’s Maralin maiden victory by posting a game performance to land the 17-runner winners of two. The five-year-old Adamstown went to the front for William Thompson before the second last and, although runner-up Tumblewood Shack closed as the line approached, he was still a neck adrift in what was the closest finish of the afternoon.
Tumbledown Shack’s rider Derek O’Connor later teamed up with long-standing ally Pat Doyle to collect the five and six-year-old geldings’ maiden with Baku Bay (6/1).