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Wakea wins to secure a shot at Royal Ascot glory

By Ron McKnight

Wakea is bound for Royal Ascot - and his owner Gary Ryan will be going to the Isle of Man TT to cheer on Michael Dunlop- after giving amateur jockey Johnny Barry a night to remember with victory at Down Royal.

Wakea made all the running to claim the Select Maiden Hurdle last night for trainer Karl Thornton who has an excellent strike rate at the track and is a rising star of the training ranks.

The odds on favourite gave supporters just one moment to be anxious when blundering at the penultimate flight otherwise was a comprehensive winner.

Thornton said: "He'll go to Royal Ascot for the handicap on the Friday.

"Owner Gary Ryan sponsors Michael Dunlop - he's more a road racing man. He'll go to the TT this week and hopefully Michael will give him a winner."

Thornton added: "We kept it simple enough. He's a big horse and probably the last day inexperience caught him out as he's a classy flat horse.

"As he's such a big horse he doesn't go from first gear to top gear, it just takes him a minute to get going. He's a good horse now - he's a big baby."

Fighting Days, trained by Francis Flood and partnered by Shane Shortall, scored in the WorkPal Handicap Hurdle.

Fran Flood Jnr said: "He got a beautiful ride. Shane really gave him every chance to settle and relax and that has been a bit of a problem with him.

"The last day here he just ran with the choke out too much and he fell into a hole.

"Young Shane started off with us before he went across to England."

Darragh Maher, having his first ever ride, took a fall from Cullentry Royal at the penultimate hurdle and was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure.

Trainer Flood combined with jockey Ger Fox to complete a double with Kylestyle running out the easy winner of the O2 Handicap Chase.

Fleurys Fort triumphed in the O2 Office 365 Handicap Hurdle.

The winner was partnered by Ryan Treacy from Enniskillen - who had a successful association with the late Oliver Brady - the claiming jockey showing his delight by punching the air when passing the post on his first winner of the season and having recovered from a fractured pelvis sustained in the Galway Plate.

Tipperary-based trainer Leslie Young said: "He got his ground and everything went to plan. It was a competitive 20-runner race. It was a long way up - four and a half hours. We weren't coming for the fresh air!"

Duckweed, trained by Jessica Harrington with Mark Bolger aboard, won the Barclay Communications Mares Chase.

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