Riverside City swooped late to foil top-weight Man From Van in the featured Toals Bookmakers Ulster Grad National in Downpatrick yesterday, providing the highlight of a double for Gordon Elliott and Davy Condon.
Only fifth jumping the final fence, the J P McManus-owned six-year-old — an eight-race maiden over fences — stayed on dourly to triumph by a head, giving Elliott his first win in the traditional Downpatrick feature.
“It’s been a lucky track for me over the years,” said Elliott. “The bit of better ground made a difference to this horse. He’s been disappointing and I was worried about the trip – that’s why we decided to drop him in, hunt around and creep into it. Davy gave him a peach of a ride. It’s a nice pot to win. He might head to Punchestown for the long-distance handicap chase (on the final day, May 2).”
Davy Condon enthused: “It’s an honour to ride a winner in these colours – it’s my first for J P.”
Riverside City was the second leg of a 20/1 double for Condon and Elliott, initiated when Knight’s Parade gave his trainer a fourth successive win in the Visit toals.co.uk Rated Hurdle, getting up late to beat stable-companion Cape Glory by a length.
Owned by the ten-member Bodhran Makers Syndicate, the five-year-old was completing a four-timer, if you include the charity race at the Cheltenham Festival, and was lucky to avoid fallers Sailors Warn and Massini’s Trap at the second last before launching a strong and decisive challenge on the run-in
“He’s won four on the bounce for us and we’ll keep him going, over hurdles and on the flat,” explained Elliott while Condon added: “He was the best horse in the race and I rode with plenty of confidence. Things got messy going to the second last and, then, I was lucky to avoid the fallers. But, in fairness to him, he put his head down and battled. He’s a smashing horse and should go on to better things.”
The colours of J P McManus, successful in the feature, were also carried to success in the opening www.downpatrickracecourse.co.uk when Salsa Sensation, trained by Ted Walsh and Ruby’s only ride of the day, justified 4/6 favouritism in convincing style.
The Luso gelding mastered Utmost Zeal before the final flight before stretching clear to score by six and a half lengths. The winning trainer commented: “He confirmed what he showed in Leopardstown and handled the track well, which was a worry. He will be a lovely three-mile chaser.”
Twin brothers Ger and Anthony Fox dominated the Ulster’s Real McCoy Handicap Chase as Ger, on Town Pond, pipped favourite Ardmillan (Anthony) by a head to give Peter Kavanagh, who trains at Neilstown Stud near Navan, his first training success. Kavanagh, who rode a number of big-race winners for the late Paddy Mullins and worked for many years for Noel Meade, declared: “I can’t believe it — I feel like Mark Bradstock!”
The Adrian Maguire-trained debutant Celldomfed, ridden by the trainer’s son Finny, landed the bumper, holding the unlucky and fast-finishing Lip Service by a head.
Mark McNiff, who trains in Strandhill, County Sligo, saddled Feel The Air to reverse recent course and distance form with favourite Jumptoconclusions in the Toals Best Value For Football Handicap Hurdle.
Ridden by Derek Fox, who is based with Lucinda Russell in Scotland, and will have a short break before returning to Downpatrick or heading for Cartmel in May.
Stephen Clements followed-up Saturday’s bumper success in Gowran Park when partnering the Jim Dreaper-trained Lord Fingal to an emphatic win over Cadawill in the Maiden Hunters Chase.
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