| 13.8°C Belfast

'This is a great day': Birthday boy Darragh O'Keeffe adds to Arthur Moore's Ulster Grand National joy


Home first: Trainer Arthur Moore with jockey Darragh O’Keeffe after Fag An Bealach’s success

Home first: Trainer Arthur Moore with jockey Darragh O’Keeffe after Fag An Bealach’s success

Home first: Trainer Arthur Moore with jockey Darragh O’Keeffe after Fag An Bealach’s success

The Arthur Moore-trained Fag An Bealach, partnered by Darragh O'Keeffe, who was celebrating his 21st birthday, proved an emphatic winner of a very competitive renewal of the Ulster Grand National at Downpatrick yesterday.

The winner of the €50,000 (£42,946) feature improved steadily in the final mile and led before the last before stretching clear on the run to the line.

The locally trained pair Flinck (50/1) and Askann (16/1) finished runner up and third respectively.

Moore, a former Champion Irish trainer, is familiar with Grand National success having sent out the locally owned Organisedconfusion to win the 2011 Irish Grand National.

Moore said: "This is a great day. I rode the winner in my time for Willie Rooney (from Glengormey), the grandfather of my son-in-law (Kevin Ross), and previously trained the winner.

"I was half keeping her for the three-mile novice handicap in Navan and she didn't get in and we are probably lucky because this race suited her very well and the ground was perfect for her.

"This was her first time over further than 2mile 4furlongs -her dam is a half-sister to Niche Market, an Irish National winner, so there was no reason why she wouldn't stay.

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

"She is only a seven-year-old and I had thought this race was for older horses and it worked well her getting in down the bottom of the weights, so it is all in front of her."

Moore added that his Down Royal bumper winner last week, Me Too Please is entered for the on line sale of horses on Wednesday.

Banbridge trainer Jerry Cosgrave, having watched two of his graduates win at the highest level at the Cheltenham Festival, recorded success in the HunterChase when Big Leg Up, with Simon Cavanagh aboard, won the contest in a canter.

The winner caught the eye and gave a bold jumping display to lead over the last where favourite Saint Benedict fell when beaten.

Cosgrave said: "He's massive and he stays. He wouldn't be the fastest in the world but stays and gallops.

"He's has been working brilliantly and I did expect a good run today."

The locally trained, San Lorenzo (150s to 40/1) attempted to make all in the opener but was headed at the final flight, finishing third.

Gold Cup winning jockey Jack Kennedy attempted to get a run up the inside at the last as Gelee Blanche challenged wider, however Kennedy was able to switch to the outside close home and prevail.

Stable representative Ian Amond said: "He had a bit of experience with the two runs over hurdles and the better ground suited him well. He stays at it well.

"It's nice to get him off the mark. He looked in a bit of trouble at the last but he picked up well in the straight. He'll go for that final in Punchestown."

Class told in the Rated Novice Hurdle when Mark Walsh dictated from the front and made all to score on the Ted Walsh-trained Pure Genius.

The winner (5s to 11/4 ) always travelled ultra well at the head of affairs and readily held the challenges of Bold Enough which finished second and Mitchouka

Walsh said: "He settled well it front and did it well. He won over three miles at Punchestown, he stays and he jumps. He'll make a nice chaser next year.

"He's a fine big, scopey horse and he's not short of pace. He loves jumping. Maybe Punchestown (next); Fairyhouse is coming up in two weeks time and might be a bit quick for him."

Top Videos