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Nerve of Steel provides a Downpatrick win for Noel

 

By Ron McKnight

Draperstown trainer Noel Kelly provided a local success at Downpatrick yesterday when winning the St Patrick's Hurdle with Canadian Steel which had finished third the previous evening at Sligo.

The winner, with Conor Orr aboard, ran last for most of the race but came through on the downhill run to lead at the last and win going away as King of Aran mounted a sustained challenge.

The Henry De Bromhead trained Avenir D'Une Vie, with Rachael Blackmore aboard, made all to claim the opener. Just three went to the start for the £15,000 contest and the winner always travelled easily to score with runner up and joint favourite Legal Steps again disappointing.

Construct, a £105,000 purchase from British trainer Ralph Beckett by trainer John McConnell and already a winner on the flat for his new connections, made an impressive winning debut in the maiden hurdle when going to the front and making all to win easily under Donnie McInerney.

Several attempted to challenge in the closing stages and, despite the winner just headed two from home by the third placed Gutteral, definitely appears a horse to follow.

Bryan Cooper was seen to excellent advantage in the saddle when landing the mares maiden hurdle on the Colin Bowe trained Inishbel, supported from 5s to 5/2 favourite.

Inishbel led four from home and held off the resolute challenge of the locally trained Laureate which was filling the runner up spot for the second time at the track.

Trainer, Gavin Cromwell, who recorded a hat trick on Sunday, continued an excellent season when Peaches And Cream justified support to claim the handicap hurdle - supplying 16 winners in the past fortnight for the Navan handler.

The winner, with Jonathan Moore aboard, ran second as the locally trained Santa Anna set a scorching gallop with the winner content to lead at the final flight and shoot clear.

Moore said: "I probably got there too soon really. The horse in front travelled really well to the last. We kind of knew he would stay well, so Gavin said to me to keep him very handy and keep it simple."

Happy Lad landed a gamble from 14s to 5/1 in a dramatic handicap hurdle. Favourite Monition soon led but jumped left at most flights and, when again jumping violently left three from home, slipped on landing to crash through the running rails leaving Happy Lad clear to score for owner/trainer Hugh Finegan and supply compensation for jockey, Adam Short who had to settle for second on Santa Anna - the rider replacing Danny Hand on the winner.

Finegan said: "He won his bumper here last year. He seemed to jump better today and he got his own way and he did it well. You need a bit of luck in this game.

"Poor Danny Hand got a fall this morning and we got Adam Short at the last minute."

Jamie Codd, on the Gordon Elliott trained Saint Or Sinner, waited in the rear before producing the winner to lead on the line and deny Mystery Stowaway in the bumper.

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