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Philip makes a Royal mark

PHILIP Rothwell enjoyed an excellent afternoon at a very wet Down Royal, with Mark Me Up's triumph in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase initiating a 53-1 double on the afternoon for the trainer.

Mark Me Up was a 5-1 shot for the most valuable prize of the afternoon and stuck on well in the hands of Andrew Ring to score by a length and three quarters from stable companion Popaflora.

Rothwell said: "He won off a similar mark last year. I fancied him a bit at Naas the last day, but the hill seemed to catch him out a bit. We said we'd come back here as he won over hurdles here before.

"Popaflora was in a two-and-a-half-mile chase at Clonmel on Thursday, but that looked doubtful, so we decided to let him take his chance here. He's a mudlover."

Rothwell completed his brace as 8-1 chance Divine Rhapsody claimed the Weatherbys Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide Novice Handicap Hurdle under Brian O'Connell.

"The horses have been in really good form the last couple of weeks and hopefully there are many more winners to come," said the trainer.

There were also doubles on the day for trainer Noel Meade and jockey Paul Carberry.



Blissful Moment (7-1) claimed the opening St Patrick's Punter Pack Handicap Chase for the formidable duo and they struck again in the N.I. Hotels Federation Beginners Chase with Didntitellya (8-1).

Meade said: "Blissful Moment probably likes the very heavy ground. It slows the rest of them down. He's been a very disappointing horse. We gave a lot of money for him out of Sir Michael Stoute's yard.

"It was a pretty ordinary race he won today and that's what he is. I'm delighted he won and maybe with a bit of luck he can win another one.

"We always said that the minute he (Didntitellya) saw a fence he was a totally different horse. He ran in a bumper and was disappointing and in his three hurdles one was worse than the other.

"When we schooled him, though, he jumped brilliantly and Paul said he came on the bridle and was a different horse."

Say It Again was a 25-1 winner of the Sean Graham Bookmakers Maiden Hurdle, while 3-1 joint-favourite Gold Not Silver edged out market rival Court Jester by a short head in a thrilling climax to the Bet With The Tote Handicap Hurdle.

Red House Hill (6-1) took the honours in the concluding bumper for trainer Charles Byrnes.