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Amaulino the National hero for Keith at Downpatrick

 

Ring of confidence: Andrew Ring guides Amaulino to big race win at Downpatrick yesterday
Ring of confidence: Andrew Ring guides Amaulino to big race win at Downpatrick yesterday

By Ron McKnight

The Toalsbet.com Ulster Grand National supplied an all-local finish at Downpatrick as Amaulino, partnered by Andrew Ring, landed the £40,000 feature for Armagh trainer Keith Watson from School Lane, trained at Newry by Liam Lennon.

School Lane attempted to make all the running but Amaulino always travelled well in mid division and, having made a mistake at the last, challenged on the run in to claim victory.

Third placed Danse Away jumped left throughout, losing ground, while the favourite, Out Sam, was struggling at halfway and pulled up. Only five finished in the marathon contest.

Watson, who bred a previous Ulster National winner with Peacock Royale in 1990, said: "We bought the horse initially from Colin Bowe with this race in mind. I would say what we will do now is go to Aintree for the race before the National as a big day out and then put him away for something like the Midlands National in Kilbeggan."

The WKD Hirdle supporting feature saw Davy Russell try to make all on Count Simon, owned by the sponsoring the Sloan family, but was joined by the Noel Meade trained Laverteen, partnered by Sean Flanagan, on the downhill run with the latter asserting after the final flight to score easily.

Meade said: "I was a bit disappointed with him previously at Naas when he turned in and looked like he had a chance and just sort of got run out of it. Sean (Flanagan) was less than confident before today - he thought the track might not suit him and the ground was a bit quick. He handled it quite well in a small field - he jumped well and stays well." Mister Eddman, with Danny Hand aboard, was always handy prior to leading at the second last to register a snug success in the opener with Barry Geraghty's mount Lady Ischia staying on late to snatch second.

Winning trainer Oliver McKiernan said: "He had a hood on because he gets a little bit hot in himself and we just felt with the noise here today, on his first time at a racecourse, it would help him. We didn't know how he would handle the track as it is not every horse that can. We came here for place money in fairness."

Trainer Gordon Elliott supplied the 1-2 in the handicap hurdle. The Elliott pair improved to jump the last together but Take a Turn, with Keith Donoghue in the saddle, quickly outpointed his stable companion and favourite, From Eden, on the run to the line.

Elliott said: "He improved a lot from the last day and Keith Donoghue said he was a different horse."

Elliott completed a double when Multifactorial landed the finale in the hands of Lisa O'Neill. Champion amateur Jamie Codd, who recorded a brace of winners at the Cheltenham Festival, was seen to good advantage when winning the Tote Chase on the Jim Dreaper trained Slemish.

The winner ran last for a long way before Codd made steady headway from four out to lead at the penultimate fence to win very easily.

The owner's representative said: "He gave Jamie Codd a lovely spin, he would be very lucky. He had a great Cheltenham so it is rubbing off!"

The Willie Mullins trained Billaway very easily justified favouritism in the hunterchase with Patrick Mullins producing the winner late to lead at the last. Mullins said: "I think he could be a nice hunter chaser for the future for some of the big tracks. Hopefully a nice fun horse for John Turner, the owner."

Newtownards jockey Jordan Canavan recorded his second Irish racecourse victory on Iconic Lady for his boss Robert Tyner at Thurles on Saturday.

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