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Impressive Noble Graduate win has the McCoy factor

By Ron McKnight

Top trainer Dermot Weld landed his first Ulster Cesarewitch at Down Royal last night with Noble Graduate – owned by Tony McCoy's father-in-law under his Chanelle Pharmacy company.

Graduate made steady headway and was delivered under a strong drive by Pat Smullen just before the elbow and gave a gusty display to win as Massini's Trap challenged late when finding an opportunity.

Smullen, who was completing a first and last race double, said: "That was uncomplicated – the visor and trip helped and he outstayed them in the closing stages. He got a lovely run round."

Caledon-based Andy Oliver again proved the top local flat trainer when sending out Al Fahidi to claim the premium handicap in the hands of Fran Berry.

The winner produced a sustained strong challenge on the outside from the three furlong mark to triumph.

Oliver said: "Fran gave her a tremendous ride. Plan 'A' was to jump and run but Fran had to adopt plan 'B' and come with one late run from the draw and got a clear passage.

"She has been frustrating to train but made amends."

The Tyrone handler added that his five-time winner Panama Hat is in good form and a pleasure to train ahead of the horse's big target – the Northfields Handicap – at the Curragh tomorrow in the new Champions weekend.

Mahrajaan, trained in Limerick by Charles Byrne, landed the apprentice handicap to provide Tom 'Socks' Madden with another win.

"He kept going and I always knew I was going to get there," said the talented apprentice.

The winner had registered six jumps wins but his sole flat victory was in 1996 at Warwick when trained in the UK by John Gosden.

Former top jockey turned trainer Johnny Murtagh supplied a very easy winner of the opener when Kasbah, with Smullen aboard, made all the running to beat the staying-on Ostatnia.

Murtagh said: "He deserved that – I just wanted to make sure he won a maiden before the year end. That's probably it for the season. I entered him in the Irish 2,000 Guineas next year – we'll see about the distance later."

Apprentice jockey Gary Halpin on Wee Monster prevailed in the Mourne Seafood Bar Race.

That was the first leg of a double for Kevin Prendergast who also won with The Scourge.

Dublin trainer Adrian McGuinness had a winner with Lady Mandeville – owned and bred by Leslie Laverty from Tandragee.

McGuinness said: "He will run again at Fairyhouse in two weeks."

The winning owner/breeder was represented by his son David who said: "I'm delighted for my father as he has been in horses a long time and owned Wee Madge which won six races."

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