Hamilton lands first on the flat
Downpatrick trainer Brian Hamilton recorded his first flat success yesterday at the Curragh when Wither Hill easily landed the Longines International Riders Handicap.
The winner had supplied the local trainer with his first all-weather winner at Dundalk in March when Irish champion jockey Joseph O'Brien was aboard, but yesterday's Curragh contest saw British amateur rider Alice Mills in the saddle, with the race forming part of the Fengentri Championship for Lady riders and several countries represented.
Wither Hills was always in the front rank as the leaders set a scorching pace but the English rider waited until the three furlong marker prior to hitting the front and win going away from runner-up and last year's winner, Beau Michael.
Hamilton said: "It's a bit of shock to the system as I'm used to tramping around in the mud at point-to-points.
"He's the only horse I've ever run on the Flat. I suppose we'll have to have a look at the Connacht Hotel QR Handicap (feature for amateur riders at the Galway Festival) depending on what the handicapper does.
"There is also another race at Galway for him and hopefully we'll run there.
"He has an issue jumping hurdles with kissing spines, which aggravates him, so it was a last ditch thing to run on the Flat and it's working out.
"He's never run on ground as fast as that before as he's just never encountered it before, but it was good safe ground with a print in it.
"She gave him a lovely ride and did exactly what she was told.
"You're always a bit concerned in these races as you never know what jockey you are getting – it's a bit pot luck."
The winner is owned and bred by Moira-based Gillian Magowan prior to being married and races as being owned by Gillian Vaughan.