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Rashaan success can be a launching pad, says trainer

By Ron McKnight

Rashaan rewarded the decision not to sell by winning yesterday's Down Royal Festival first day feature, beating odds on favourite Apple's Jade.

Ruby Walsh attempted to make all on the favourite - trained by Gordon Elliott who had a four-timer on the day - in the £50,000 WKD Hurdle but Sean Flanagan delivered the winner with a decisive strong challenge after the final flight to prevail and warrant trainer Colin Kidd's long trip from Carlow.

Kidd said: "Last year the heavy ground in the winter just didn't suit him. We have been blessed with the weather the last couple of months.

"I am just going to keep him going while the ground is this way. He is thriving on racing.

"We went into the juvenile hurdle on St Stephen's Day last year as favourite and Apple's Jade and Jer's Girl were first and second. He doesn't jump as well on heavy ground.

"If the weather stays this way he could go to Naas next Saturday. We never had any regrets (about not selling him when the offers came in)."

Walsh, who had a treble on the day, made all the running to win the Grade 3 Mares Hurdle on Airlie Beach.

Willie Mullins and Walsh were landing the race for the third successive time.

The champion jockey said: "Dropping back from two and a half miles to just two miles nearly exposed her for speed a little bit. Her stamina won it out for her.

"She was tough from the last - she was tough all the way," Walsh said.

"She's game and probably would appreciate maybe a fraction slower ground."

Realt Mor cantered to victory in the handicap chase to supply Elliott with winner number four on the day.

Realt Mor is owned by the Sloan family whose company sponsored the first day feature, the WKD Hurdle.

The Armagh owned and trained The Shepherd King, which had attempted to make all, kept on for second.

Templepatrick-based Joe and Pat Sloan looked assured of a winner in the opener when The Storyteller, with Barry Geraghty aboard, travelled very easily to lead two from home only to fall, allowing favourite and stable companion Monbeg Notorious to prevail for the Elliott and Walsh partnership.

Boris Boru, trained at Dromore by Sarah Dawson, was backed from 20/1 to 7s but had to settle for second in the handicap hurdle, the handler also sending out the fourth placed Degenerous behind another Elliott winner, Wolfslair, with David Mullins in the saddle.

Elliott and Walsh very easily claimed the Beginners Chase when A Toi Phil made a winning debut over fences, likewise Joey Sasa was winning his second bumper of the week, supplying Noel Meade with a double in the finale ahead of today's Super Saturday card.

Belfast Telegraph


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