Super Primo goes flat out to triumph
Pat Smullen, who partners Fascinating Rock in next weekend's Epsom Derby, made all the running on Primo Uomo to score at Down Royal last night.
Trained by Gerry O'Leary, Primo Uomo – the top tip in yesterday's Belfast Telegraph – looks one to follow after galloping clear in the closing stages, with Lady Mandeville – owned and bred by Co Antrim-based Leslie Laverty – staying on to claim second in the first race of the Ulster Flat season.
Smullen followed up by winning the next race – the Barclay Office 365 Maiden – on Pirita.
Racing got under way over the jumps with a local success as Shemshal – owned by Sheila Moffett, wife of Maze committee member Billy Moffett – easily won the opening maiden hurdle.
Shemshal, runner-up at the Lisburn venue last time, had top jockey Barry Geraghty aboard and the Tony Martin-trained odds-on favourite was always close to the pace before going on to triumph.
Martin said: "He's not the easiest horse but had a very good run at Punchestown and needed time after that run.
"He was unlucky to run into one of Willie's (Mullins) in the past but was very good today and he has always shown that ability at home.
"He did it well and we'll get him home and then make a plan as to what's next."
Noel Meade supplied another local success in the second race when Portaras, under a classy Paul Carberry ride, claimed the handicap hurdle for Mrs Maureen Hunt – the Belfast family long-standing owners with the Navan-based trainer.
Portaras had been held up early on prior to leading at the elbow entering the straight and going clear for an easy victory.
Carberry said: "He lost it a bit over fences – it was all happening too quick for him.
"I was lucky with the fallers (Sober Sailor fell five from home and brought another two down). We'll stick to hurdling with him meantime."
Valley Of Stars, trained in Cavan by Anthony Mulholland, sprang a 25/1 surprise in the Sony Xperia Hurdle when catching Forjoethepainter in the closing stages.
Valley Of Stars is owned by John Wright, originally from Portadown, who owns the Cavan stables where Mulholland is based.
The trainer said: " We will keep him on the go but he needs three weeks between races.
"He was only beaten three lengths at Naas on the Flat a couple of years ago by Our Conor."