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Cheltenham Festival 2016: Mount Beckham nets Royal success

By Ron McKnight

Mount Beckham supplied a dramatic local success in the opening Maiden Hurdle at Down Royal to help get the St Patrick's Day celebrations under way.

Mount Beckham edged a photo finish and survived a stewards' inquiry to take the victory. He is trained in Donaghadee by Clare Cannon and is owned and bred by her father, Geoff.

Clare said: "He's a bit of a family pet having been hand-reared by my father. I'm delighted - he ran well earlier in the year on heavy ground but wants decent going, so I was a bit worried about the ground. Sean Flanagan gave him a smashing ride."

The Shane Donohoe-trained Theo claimed the Martinstown Hurdle on a day of glorious sunshine, which attracted a good turnout to the Lisburn course.

His task was made easier when challenger Tyrone Tiger fell at the final flight. The County Cavan trainer, however, missed his winner as he is at the Cheltenham Festival.

Donagh Meyler, a jockey tipped to have a bright future, oozed confidence when jumping into the lead four from home in the Handicap Hurdle aboard Colms Dream.

The rider continued to canter at the head of proceedings, taking a late look around prior to an easy victory.

Triumphant Skerries-based trainer Karl Thornton said: "He was entitled to do that - he's clever. I had thought of running him in the Feature Chase but opted for this instead.

"He's won seven times now - I had considered Cheltenham but he's not well treated in handicaps over there. Maybe next year. He'll be aimed at a chase at the Punchestown Festival."

Despite having just five runners, the Novice Chase produced a thrilling finish with a nose separating the front two.

Dr Moloney led the charge before being joined by Kylestyle, and Some Drama burst through the pair to lead at the final fence.

However, Kylestyle - with Robbie Colgan on board - prevailed at the line. Trainer Fran Flood said: "It's good to see him coming back and winning."

The Stuart Crawford-trained Fine Rightly, partnered by Andrew Lynch, won the Feature Chase at a stroll. The triumph was a nice consolation, considering they had bypassed Cheltenham.

Fine Rightly led early on but dropped to third with two miles remaining before reclaiming the initiative three from home.

Steven Crawford, representing his brother, said: "While Stuart has a chase at the Punchestown Festival in mind, if it keeps drying we will have to have a think."

Newry trainer Liam Lennon supplied the second local winner when Pointview Gale proved the easy winner of the Hunter Chase and provided Antony Fox, a former claiming professional jockey, with his first win since returning to the amateur ranks.

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