Cross again defies the years

Versatile veteran Fosters Cross proved, again, that he retains plenty of his ability when landing the featured Donal Downes Water Towers Chase in Ballinrobe last night.

Cross again defies the years

The twelve-year-old, successful at Galway last time, was meeting odds-on favourite Special Tiara 16lb. ‘wrong’ on handicap ratings, but got the measure of his front-running rival at the second last fence before asserting and beating the favourite’s novice stable-companion Enjoy Responsibly by two and a half lengths, with Special Tiara eight and a half lengths adrift following a last fence mistake.

Winning trainer Tom Mullins was not present, but Russell acknowledged: “Credit must go to Tom. He’s always been a good horse and was good again today, for his age. The leader jumped a bit left early on and my fellow followed him. Other than that, he was spot-on and won well.”

John Oxx enjoyed mixed luck on a rare visit to the County Mayo track, saddling Marakoush to justify odds-on favouritism in the opening Ballinrobe Ireland’s Lake District Maiden before Newton’s Night, the 5/4 favourite, filled third spot, beaten only a length, behind Eric The Grey in the David Heneghan Memorial Rated Race.

Marakoush, officially rated 88, had plenty in hand — on paper — for the opener and won accordingly, making most of the running and stretching clear before the straight to win impressively under Declan McDonogh.

Oxx commented: “He ran well early in the season, but needed a bit of time and has improved well over the summer. He handled the track well and will go for a handicap now. He’s a big, scopey horse, a half-brother to Mourad, Mourilyan and Mourayan and, in the future, should make a nice hurdler for somebody.”

No joy for Oxx and McDonogh with Newton’s Night in the rated race as the 5/4 favourite finished a close third to Charlie Swan’s Eric The Grey, dashingly ridden by Billy Lee.

Swan declared: “Billy was very good on him — he got the best run and the splits came for him. It’s definitely a case of big thanks to the jockey.

“He has won over a mile and quarter and we might step him up in trip, which will give us a few more options.”

Arthur Moore faces a dilemma with Back Off Mate following his gutsy win under a determined David Casey in the Corrib Oil Handicap Chase but admitted: “It’s a lovely position to be in — he’s so versatile that I don’t know where to go — hurdles, fences or flat.”

Back Off Mate, successful on the flat at Sligo last time, came from off the pace to get the better of Baily Dusk by a half-length with longtime leader Hellofado a close third. Moore added: “I’m sure there’s something for him in Listowel and he could run in the Amateur Derby at the Curragh — he was second in it last year.”

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