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Statesman steps up to Plate and serves up second successive win

By Ron McKnight

Just a nose decided the result of the feature, with Elegant Statesman winning a thrilling Galway Plate Trail in the first session of the Magners Ulster Derby Festival at Down Royal.

Elegant Statesman landed the prize for the second successive year last night when beating Shantou Flyer, providing trainer Henry de Bromhead with a double at the Maze.

Numerous horses had chances from two out but is was Mark Walsh aboard the winner that battled best to just prevail at the line.

The winning jockey said: "He loves it here. Henry had him spot-on for tonight."

Racing got under way when the Willie Mullins-trained Listen Dear with his nephew Danny aboard made all the running to claim the opener.

The winner quickened when runner-up The Nutcracker attempted to challenge at the penultimate flight.

The winning rider said: "She's a nice filly and will improve again. That's her first run since October - hopefully she'll pick up plenty more races."

Jockey Andrew Lynch was seen to best advantage when prevailing in a photo-finish to the maiden.

The top rider had made all on Our Dougal but the combination survived a mistake at the last - as Tajseer challenged - to score by a head.

Lynch said: "He'll be better going the other way. He'll improve as he has been of the track for over a year."

Clarcam trained by Gordon Elliott with Jack Kennedy aboard cantered to victory in the conditions hurdle.

The winner tracked Yes Sir Brian during the race and was travelling easily when the leader attempted to run out at the penultimate flight unseating the rider.

The versatile Shake The Bucket, a regular score on the all-weather at Dundalk, won the handicap hurdle snugly for the Madden family, being trained by Niall Madden partnered by Niall Junior and bred by the trainer's wife.

Favourite Shan Dun Na Ngall and Ardview went head-to-head in front but the winner came through readily to lead at the last.

The winning rider said: "Everybody loves a horse like that. He loves that ground. He did it well - that's 11 he's won."

The Beginners' Chase supplied another photo-finish with Beau Et Sublime winning by a neck from The Herd's Garden.

The winner provided trainer Gordon Elliott and jockey Jack Kennedy with a double.

Belfast Telegraph

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