Davy in the big picture as Riverside City comes home
A photo finish decided the Downpatrick feature race yesterday as Davy Condon got Riverside City home with a late lunge in the Toals Bookmakers Ulster Grand National to complete a 20/1 double as a bumper turnout enjoyed a good day's racing and entertainment.
A first winner for Condon in JP McManus' silks, the Gordon Elliott-trained 9/1 shot overcame a clumsy effort two-out to collar locally trained Man With Van by a head on the line, having still only been fifth at the last.
Two local runners, Heavenly Brook and Keep On Track, took the field along and were at the head of affairs for most of race while the winner still had five horses in front of him going to the last.
But on the uphill climb, as the others stopped, it was the first pair that battled to the line. Gordon Elliott said later: "I wasn't sure about the trip but Davy Condon gave him a lovely ride. He dropped him in and took his time. He jumped a bit left over the last two fences. I am delighted as that's my first Ulster National."
Elliott, who won the Aintree National in 2007 with Silver Birch, and Condon, initiated their brace when Knight's Parade justified 11/10 favouritism in the conditions hurdle.
The complexion of the race changed dramatically at the penultimate flight when Sailors Warn fell, bringing down Massini's Trap with the pair in contention.
Elliott said: "Knight's Parade was lucky as he was hampered. He's won four on the bounce now for the boys and will keep going over the summer."
Ger Fox thwarted his twin brother Anthony in the shorter handicap chase by getting Town Pond (6/1) up to deny Larne trainer Stuart Crawford's 7/4 favourite Ardmillan by a neck. Town Pond was a first win for one-horse Navan-based handler and former jockey Peter Kavanagh.
The maiden hurdle went to Salsa Sensation under Ruby Walsh for his father Ted, whose reopened Turf Club inquiry into Foxrock's December Punchestown run has been put back from April 2 to 18.
Ted Walsh said: "The horse handled the track well and confirmed the promise he showed at Leopardstown, where he finished third. He'll be a lovely three mile chaser in time."
Feel The Air took the Handicap Hurdle, the winner trained at Sligo by Mark McNiff and partnered by Derek Fox. McNiff said: "She has improved and will mix hurdling with the flat and go for a mares handicap next."
Steven Clements ensured a 100pc strike-rate for his weekend by taking the hunters' chase on Jim Dreaper's Lord Fingal (5/2), having also scored on Tony Martin's Kinnity Castle in the Gowran bumper.
Barry Geraghty today awaits the result of X-rays on his tibia after a fall earlier in the day.