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Miss Blanche escapes high drama to win

By Ron McKnight

There was major drama at Downpatrick last night in the penultimate race.

The majority of runners fell, were brought down or hampered when a horse slipped up on the bend out of the straight approaching the first fence.

The melee saw only four of the 11 runners left standing and Eddie's Miracle was last of the quartet.

However the favourite steadily improved to jump the penultimate fence with victory appearing assured only to fall, leaving 20/1 shot Miss Blanche to score for Sligo trainer Mark McNiff and rider Richie Deegan.

Doran River, on his first start for trainer Gordon Elliott, won the opening race at Downpatrick last night.

The winner, owned by Tom Doran who also had the top class chaser Doran's Pride, made steady significant progress on the downhill run with Keith Donoghue aboard.

Favourite Atlantic Breaker had every chance before finishing third.

Donoghue - who took a break from riding - said: "It's nice to come back and get a winner. We didn't really know much about him, it was his first run for Gordon. He did it very well."

Donoghue added: "It has been a struggle. I went out and my weight went up to 12-10 but I have it back around 11-7 now. I'm just going to do 11-7 as the lightest for a while and see what happens.

"There will be plenty of opportunities for Gordon in maiden hurdles and beginners chases."

The handicap hurdle was run at a very fast pace.

Ashjan looked another winner at the course for Sligo handler McNiff when joining Bective Cave at the last but Station Closed - under a trademark Denis O'Regan ride - pounced in the closing stages to give Elliott a double while only three lengths separated the first four home.

Ian Amond, representing Elliott, said: "We'll keep her going now for the summer, obviously she has turned the corner. She stayed going well, the step up in trip and better ground helped.

"I suppose this time of year they can change when they get a bit of sun."

Polymath attempted to make all in the novice hurdle but dropped out four from home.

Foxearth and Prince Garyantle then went on with the former, trained by Henry de Bromhead, readily asserting in the closing stages partnered by Andrew Lynch.

The winning jockey said: "He stayed three miles well the last day and having ridden the other horse (Prince Garyantle) I was anxious to put a bit of pressure on him early and he galloped well."

Lynch quickly doubled up when winning the beginners chase on the Matthew Smyth-trained Theturnofthesun.

The race attracted a maximum field and Jack Slade was well supported into favourite only to pull up four from home.

Theturnofthesun made ground to lead at the penultimate fence and went clear after the last.

Jody McGarvey was seen to excellent advantage when landing the handicap chase on Kilclispeen for trainer Joseph O'Brien and owner JP McManus.

Four jumped the last together and while Admiral Brian got to the front McGarvey rallied the eventual winner, which had always tracked the leaders, to prevail at the line.

McGarvey said: "He had a good jump at the last and battled well up the hill.

"I thought Rachael (Blackmore on Admiral Bob) just got a run on me but he stuck his old head out and did it."

Belfast Telegraph

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