New Year bells rang out early for Crossgar trainer Colin McBratney when his horses filled first and third places in the featured Martinstown Opportunity Handicap at Down Royal yesterday, a meeting postponed from Boxing Day.
The winner was Sole Witness, a 15-2 shot ridden by Eddie O’Connell who was scoring his first success on the horse.
A delighted McBratney said: “Sole Witness won a bumper here some time ago and he will go for another hurdle race in the near future.
“However, I was very pleased with Selection Box who was third and was in the shake-up right up until the final hurdle.”
It was at that stage that Sole Witness went on and he looked like being an easy winner before being tackled by Chino Valdez in a bid to give Gordon Elliott another winner following his opening success with Silverlord who benefitted from the final flight fall of leader Dylan Ross.
But Sole Witness battled on to prevail by three-quarters of a length. However, it was not long before Elliott and jockey Jason Maguire completed a double with Tharawaat taking the Beginners Chase.
It was a good day for Ulster connections, Silverlord being owned by Armagh’s Stephanie Swift while the Noel Meade-trained Another Palm won for Omagh-based Billy Jamison who had a lot of winners with Meade a few years ago.
Another Palm started at generous odds of 12-1 which is unusual for a Meade horse at this venue.