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Dixie Lee recovers to take opener


By Ron McKnight

Dixie Lee supplied a local winner in the opener at Down Royal last night.

Trained by Dermot McLaughlin, the talented mare was winning at the course for the third time for Magherafelt owner Pat Conway. Having run last for most - the mare powered home leading at the final flight, going clear with Mark Enright aboard.

McLaughlin said: "Mark (Enright) said he was cantering everywhere she went, he had plenty of horse.

"He didn't want to hit the front too soon and he said she loved that ground.

"I think we'll look at Galway. It's good for the boss man (owner Pat Conway)."

The highly regarded Boot Camp on his hurdling debut almost threw the race away after leading at the last before veering violently right but was straightened up by champion jockey, Davy Russell to prevail in the maiden hurdle.

The Gordon Elliott-trained winner - well supported to favourite on the basis of his top class bumper form - would have been an unlucky loser. Elliott said: "Russell said the ground was maybe as tight as he would have wanted it, he wasn't really letting himself down on it.

"He was there at the right end of it, thank God. We'll keep him going over the summer."

Elliott and Russell quickly doubled up when The Plan Man beat stable companion Flaxen Flare in the conditions hurdle. Elliott said: "We were worried about him staying but Davy gave him a good ride. Thankfully it all worked out grand."

The John McConnell-trained, Roi de Dubai foiled a major gamble on Viking Hoard [10s to 7/2] - the latter trained by Charles Byrnes. The winner made all to score while the runner up could never get on terms in the closing stages.

McConnell said: "He's had niggly little issues but he's not a bad little horse and he's extremely tough."

The Joseph O'Brien-trained Monarch [Mark Walsh] claimed the featured Tote Hurdle. The winner made steady strong progress on the downhill run to lead at the last where Suitor fell when beaten.

Walsh said: "He came on from the last day in Listowel. He just needs to be covered up, I was left in front plenty soon enough as he doesn't do much in front.

"It was a good performance from him. He did (pick up well) - that ground is a big help to him."

The Darren Bunyon-trained Gone Dancin with Finny Maguire in the saddle made all in a depleted field [five non runners] to win the younger horses bumper.

Top Banbridge amateur, Mark O'Hare adopted similar front running tactics to win the finale aboard the Eddie Harty-trained Not The Chablis.

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