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'Big baby' Vaucelet makes a bright start to life in Christie's stable

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Declan Lavery

Declan Lavery

Declan Lavery

Vaucelet supplied a local success in the hunterchase at Down Royal yesterday.

The winner, owned by Portstewart hotelier Jennifer O'Kane, was scoring for the first time for trainer David Christie, being a new recruit to the stable.

Vaucelet was always handy, but William Tyndale delivered a strong late challenge to narrowly lead on landing at the last, however the Fermanagh horse quickly asserted and appears capable of even better.

Jockey Ben Harvey said: "He's still a big baby. The way the race worked out, I was left there a bit soon but when I did get stuck into him at the back of the last, he really rallied and showed his little bit of class.

"I imagine he will improve as he goes up the grades."

Larne trainer Stuart Crawford completed a brace for local handlers when providing the first pair home in the bumper.

Ballycoose and Champ De Gane were always nicely placed and, as favourite Silas Marner faded, Ballycoose - with Declan Lavery in the saddle - eventually denied his stable mate, partnered by the trainer's brother, Ben. The duo are both owned by the high profile jumps owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede.

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Lavery said: "He's a proper horse. I rode a few bits of work on him and he gives you a serious feel. He's still very green and raw but he's a good horse going forward, I'd say. He'll improve a fair bit from that."

An incident-packed opening maiden hurdle got racing under way.

Three runners departed at the first flight, however the winner Don Diablo - trained by Denise Foster with Jordan Gainford aboard - was always in the first two prior to leading three from home to record an easy victory.

Locally trained Easca Peasca improved from four out, and was not aided by a mistake at the penultimate flight, but was never a real threat to the winner, with numerous riderless horses completing the course. The going was changed to yielding to soft after the first.

Foster and Gainford doubled up when Tullybeg was the very easy winner of the conditions hurdle, beating the locally-trained Archies Charm (33s to 8/1) into second. The Cullentra handler and top conditional rider completed a treble when Fancy Foundations made a winning debut over fences and, with favourite Disc Donc disappointing again, it was Bread And Butter that stayed on late to take second.

"He was very good and he enjoyed his fences," said Gainford.

"He travelled and quickened up nicely, so he should have a nice campaign for the summer coming."


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