Bracka Lily blossoms for Kelly at Downpatrick
Draperstown handler Noel Kelly was again successful at Downpatrick yesterday when Bracka Lily landed the long distance mares' handicap hurdle.
Jockey Danny Mullins was a late replacement on the locally owned and trained mare which was always prominent and beat the well supported favourite, Walking Memphis, (5s to 7/2).
Kelly said: "Fair play to the stewards for letting us run (with Danny Mullins putting up 4lb overweight). They could have been very awkward and not let us run. All the owners are here and they didn't make too much fuss. He rode her very well and is a very shrewd jockey."
Kelly doubled up on the day when course specialist Canadian Steel recorded an easy win in the staying handicap hurdle - the local trainer also providing the third-placed Oscar Light. Top jockey Jody McGarvey had the race in safekeeping a long way out.
Kelly, who was registering his first ever double, said: "We'll have to go to Tramore on Thursday before the handicapper gets a hold of us now.
"He's improving all the time and he is going well. I still think he is a better horse over fences than over hurdles - he travels that well over fences. I'll be in Spain on Thursday but I'll be able to watch it."
Racing got under way with hot favourite Rebel Og, having looked set for victory, getting beaten by the Noel Meade trained Star Adventure on his hurdles debut.
The Willie Mullins favourite had hit the front two out but was well outpointed after the last by the winner, partnered by Sean Flanagan.
Castle Canny, a 100/1 shot, took second as the favourite finished third. Castle Canny is trained beside the track by Brian Hamilton while jockey Danny McMenamin started his career with the local trainer but is now based with Nicky Richards.
Herbiegoesbannas, returning from a lengthy absence was another favourite to flop, finishing fourth for the champion trainer, as Effernock Lad made all to score under Mark Flanagan in the handicap hurdle.
The Gerry Keane trained winner was briefly joined before four out by Derecho Storm which sustained serious injury and pulled up after which the winner basically had the race in safe keeping as challenging Tagg's Island unseated his rider three from home.
Panther Soul (eased from 1/3 to 6/4) completed a hat-trick of disappointments for Willie Mullins in the staying maiden hurdle when only managing fourth behind winner Summer Hill.
The John Ryan trained victor showed no ill-effects from running the previous evening at Kilbeggan with Hugh Morgan replacing Liam Quinlan in the saddle - leading from halfway for an easy success.
Ryan said: "He didn't handle the track at all last night in Kilbeggan otherwise he would have won. I pulled him out this morning and gave him a canter and he looked good. He'll go now to the Listowel festival."
The Rated Hurdle again saw the picture change late as Road To Dubai, having led at the penultimate hurdle, was readily overhauled by the Gavin Cromwell trained Darver Star with Jonathan Moore in the saddle and Victoria Bay running on late to relegate the favourite to third.
Cromwell said: "We gave him a break and freshened him up. He might jump a fence at some stage in time, too."
Gordon Elliott, leading trainer at the venue, had to wait until the finale to get on the scoreboard with Jamie Codd asserting in the dip aboard Soldiers Hill to claim the bumper.
Codd said: "He is a good prospect and he's actually very nice. He's going to make a real fun kind of spring/summer horse."