Fairyhouse on Hughies radar after Ulster win
MICK Darcy displayed a good judge of pace as he guided the gutsy Hughies Grey to victory in the featured Toals Bookmakers Ulster Grand National at Downpatrick yesterday.
On just his sixth start over the larger obstacles and without a win in that sphere, the son of Houmayoun led at the fourth fence and despite being pressed two out, asserted from the last to see off Posh Bird and Selection Box. Ian Ferguson's well-fancied Bally Wall was back in fourth.
Trainer Mervyn Torrens now plans to aim his progressive grey at the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.
"He jumped well, but to be honest he's always jumped well. He didn't touch a twig today. He's been crying out for that sort of trip and I hope he could be an Aintree horse in time," said Torrens.
"We'll consider the Irish National now. I had him in the Thyestes, but he didn't get in. I thought he'd have won his novice chase by now, but he's run up against a few good ones."
Gordon Elliott celebrated his birthday with a double, initiated by the victory of Brave Beauty, which easily turned over odds-on favourite Belle Brook in the Audrey Woods Memorial EBF Mares Novice Hurdle.
Paul Carberry was typically cool aboard the 8/1 shot as he steered the seven-year-old to a cosy four and a half lengths success. "I'd say she's a bit of a madam. In fairness the ground was a bit better and that probably helped. She may go to England in a few weeks' time for something," said Elliott.
Nutin Fancy gave Elliott more reason to celebrate when capturing the bumper under Chris Cully.
Winner of a point-to-point for the now retired Caroline Hutchinson, Nutin Fancy was favourite in the morning, but he was displaced at the top of the market by golfer Christy O'Connor junior's Noble Steel (backed from 6/1 in the morning into 7/4).
"That's a good birthday present," said Elliott. "This is not a bumper horse -- he's a two-and-a-half-mile or three-mile chaser. It was probably a weak enough race and he'll go hurdling next season."
Cully was completing his own double after partnering the Mark Fagan-trained Kanesh to victory in the Taste of Ulster Hunters' Chase.
Jim Dreaper sent out a 40/1 winner when Robbie Colgan got Eddie Zero up in the dying strides to spring a surprise in the Peter Meegan Memorial Handicap Hurdle.