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Crawford joy as Dixie flies to Down Royal joy



Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford

� Press Eye - Belfast - Norther

Stuart Crawford

The Larne-based Crawford brothers toasted the perfect conclusion to the local racing season when Dixie Flyer (28s to 14/1) proved the decisive winner of the Down Royal finale yesterday, making all to beat a high-class field.

The local horse had only one previous outing in a Toome point to point but was ridden with confidence by Ben Crawford for brother Stuart, who is the horse's trainer. Several of the field started with big reputations but the Larne runner was impressive.

Stuart Crawford said: "We had always picked out to come here. He's a good enough jumper but it suited us to come and run him in a bumper. He did that well today. He got out in front and dictated it and had plenty of horse left at the end."

Trainer Joseph O'Brien supplied the first pair home in the opener when Battle Of Actium beat his better fancied stable companion Fun Light. The winner, with Donagh Meyler in the saddle, was always prominent.

In the feature, the favourite, Vintage Prosecco, led from the flag fall, only to be joined at the final flight and then overhauled by Feelgood Island with Sean O'Keefe aboard.

Trainer Gavin Cromwell, who had to settle for second in the feature, gained quick compensation when You Say Nothing landed the Handicap Hurdle.

Jockey Conor McNamara was seen to great advantage when dictating from the front, with the always prominent Lauderdale Lady keeping on for second.

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Rachael Blackmore was another to showcase her talents when landing the Beginners Chase on Arahecan. The jockey waited patiently mid-division on the Henry de Bromhead horse before improving and challenging between horses at the last fence to readily prevail.

The Hunter Chase proved a thriller. The locally-trained Winged Leader attempted to make all and only gave best when headed at the final fence by Billaway (2/1 to 5/4), trained by Willie Mullins and partnered by his son and champion amateur, Patrick Mullins Junior.

The Oliver McKiernan-trained Kristian Goingwel landed a gamble (8s to 100/30 favourite) in the Handicap Chase under claiming rider Gavin Brouder.

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