Condon at his best on Riverside
Riverside City benefited from a power-packed ride by Davy Condon to win the Toals Bookmakers Ulster Grand National EBF Handicap Chase at Downpatrick.
Only fifth jumping the final fence, the jockey brought his mount wide to make his challenge in the familiar JP McManus silks, but it looked in vain as top-weight Man With Van had gone clear.
The welter burden began to take its toll, though, and as the leader's stride shortened Condon forced Gordon Elliott's six-year-old (9-1) up close home to score by a head to win over the bigger obstacles for the first time.
Condon said: " That's my first winner for JP and it's an honour to wear these colours. We said we'd hunt him round and hope to be in with a squeak over the last two. I needed a clear run over the last two so I pulled him wide, and he winged the last. H e dug deep and will be a fun summer horse."
Elliott added: "This is a lucky track for us so it's nice to win their big race.
"We were worried about him getting the trip so we told Davy to ride him to be placed so that there was no pressure on him. Thankfully it worked out and Davy gave him a peach. We might take him to Punchestown for the long-distance chase."
Cheltenham Festival charity race winner Knight's Parade earlier led home a one-two for Elliott after a dramatic conclusion to the Visit toals.co.uk Rated Hurdle.
The progressive five-year-old was sent off the 11-10 favourite after winning his last three 'proper' races, two of them over jumps and one on the Flat at Dundalk, but supporters must have been worrying as they entered the closing stages of the contest.
Sailors Warn held every chance as they approached the second-last flight but crashed out, taking Massini's Trap with him, and Condon had to get after King's Parade to haul in stablemate Cape Glory on the run-in for a length victory.
Elliott said of the winner: "He got hampered and stuck on the inside coming down the hill. He's won four on the bounce for us so we'll find another one for him. He'll keep going." Condon added: " He's a smashing horse who can go on to better things."
Ted Walsh's 4-6 favourite Salsa Sensation gave backers a minor scare when clumsy at the third-last in the www.downpatrickracecourse.co.uk Maiden Hurdle, but Ruby Walsh always looked confident and led going to the last before winning by six and a half lengths.
The trainer said: "That was nice - he confirmed what he showed at Leopardstown. We didn't know how he would handle the track, but he handled it well. He'll make a nice three-mile chaser."
Ger Fox looked to have plenty to do jumping the last in fourth spot in the 'Ulsters Real McCoy' Handicap Chase, but Peter Kavanagh's 6-1 shot Town Pond dug deep and collared Ardmillan - ridden by Fox's twin brother Anthony - late on to score by a neck.
Derek Fox delivered Feel The Air with a punishing run heading to two out in the Toals Best Value For Football Betting Handicap Hurdle and Mark McNiff's 9-1 shot quickly asserted after the jumping the obstacle to win by seven lengths.