Christmas came early at Downpatrick yesterday for 19-year-old jockey Aaron Murphy who scored his first win on any track when Green Wellies got home in the First Division of the Hunter chase.
"What a day," exclaimed Murphy who has now ridden Green Wellies to three successes, the other two having being in point-to-points.
However Murphy was grateful to his brother Ciaran who normally rides for trainer Dot Love but who had been out of action for a long time with a broken arm.
Only three days ago Ciaran was passed fit to ride but he decided to let Aaron have the mount as he had won twice between the flags.
Green Wellies just got up from Takeyourpick with third place going to Ballyholland who was one of the fastest finishers.
The winning trainer said: "I'm best known for Sabina Park who has won here and has also scored elsewhere. She would be my top Hunter chaser but Green Wellies is certainly progressive."
A Blitz Kraeg victory was scored by The Man from Slatt who made all the running and had the opposition strung out behind him and struggling in the Second Division of the Hunter chase which he won by 25 lengths from Artic Island with third place going to Buailteoir.
Afterwards the jockey Jamie Codd said: "That was like flying an aeroplane." He added that The Man from Slatt who is trained by William Murphy in Carlow was the best point-to-pointer he had ever ridden.
Murphy, who was bathing in the glory achieved by his horse, said: "I'm delighted he won for my mother's sake. She owns the horse but has been ill for a while. This could be just the push that she needs."
As for The Man from Slatt, Murphy said: "This horse could be anything and we'll have to look to see what to do with him. He's very well bred and he should go far."
There was an unusual start to the Irish Racing Annual Beginner's Chase when two horses took no part. Artane Boys and Berkerys Treasure both appeared to be caught up in the starting tape. But after a stewards inquiry when evidence was heard from the starter Brendan Sheridan and the two jockeys concerned Niki O'Shea and Mark Walsh it was decided to take no action.
The stewards said: "After considering the video and the evidence the stewards were satisfied that a fair start was effected," but cautioned the riders concerned not to pre-empt the starter's instructions.
However understandably the connections of the two horses involved were a little bit miffed that nothing was done. Eamon Campbell from Banbridge who owns Artene Boys said: "That was a disgrace. Sure everyone knows that was a botch of a start. It's hard to get justice in this world isn't it?"
The winner was December Sun - quite appropriately - for trainer Lar Byrne and jockey Stephen Gray who were both having their first winners at the track.