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Twins peak with doubles

By Ron McKnight

A large crowd carried on the festive celebrations at Down Royal's big Boxing Day fixture on what proved a great occasion for local owners and trainers - not to mention twin brothers Anthony and Ger Fox who both rode doubles.

Anthony won on Ardmillan and Rushvale, while Ger triumphed aboard Down Ace and Coney Choice.

Larne trainer Stuart Crawford supplied a locally owned and trained success when Ardmillan landed the handicap chase.

The winner is owned by Elizabeth Hamilton and was bred by David Mitchell, with the pair based in County Down.

Ardmillan was partnered to victory by claiming rider Anthony Fox, who improved to lead three from home and kept on well in the closing stages with another local runner, One Cool Clarkson, filling third place.

Fox said: "He jumped great and loved the ground. He was idling, he'll be better when he steps up in trip. It's my first winner in Ireland for Stuart. I've been with him since last March."

The Gordon Elliott-trained Oscar Barton proved the emphatic winner of the featured hunterchase - leading three from home and keeping on resolutely in the closing stages with owner/rider Tim Donsworth in the saddle.

Oscar Barton put a disappointing effort at Kirkistown behind him when beating odds-on favourite On The Fringe, who had claimed the previous year's running of the race. James, trained in Ballymena by Ian Ferguson, filled third while Sole Witness finished fourth for Crossgar trainer Colin McBratney.

Donsworth said: "He jumps and travels. He'll hopefully go to Cheltenham now. To put On The Fringe to bed like that put a smile on my face."

McBratney gained compensation in the EBF Hurdle with Killultagh Sarah registering a surprise victory with Newry amateur rider Noel McParlan aboard.

The winner is owned and bred by Rose Boyd - joint owner of Champion Hurdler Hurricane Fly - and made all the running and readily repelled the challenge of I Knew Well at the final flight.

McBratney said: "She'll go for a mares' novice hurdle or a novice hurdle. She's a nice mare and over fences will be her future."

Newry rider and former Northern Region point to point champion McParlan doubled up when scoring on Drumlee Lad, trained by his father Sean.

McParlan said: "We were a bit worried about the ground but he handled it well."

Navan trainer Noel Meade maintained his excellent record at the venue when claiming the opener with Down Ace, partnered by Ger Fox, who recorded a double at the Maze when Coney Choice beat Annakrista by a half-length in a photo finish, with another local runner, Court Jester, filling third place.

Ballyclare-based James Jenkins registered his first racecourse training victory when Rushvale (20/1) won the concluding bumper to supply Anthony Fox with a riding double to match the feat of his twin brother Ger.

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