Crawford's Ayr raid reaps double reward
IRISH eyes were smiling at Ayr where trainers from these shores were responsible for three winners on a six-race card.
Regular visitor Stuart Crawford took the honours with a short-priced double, which was initiated by the success of the Larne handler's Fine Rightly in the novice handicap chase.
The 4/6 favourite made all the running and jumped well in the main for Davy Russell as he saw off the challenge of market rival Final Assault by a comfortable four lengths.
In the following bumper, Crawford was also responsible for the market leader as recent course runner-up Baby Bach (8/11) which took up the running early in the straight and stayed on strongly to see off Spoils Of War by three lengths in the hands of the trainer's brother Steven.
Earlier on the card, the Noel Kelly-trained Milan Flyer (4/1) took the opening three-mile handicap chase under Derek Fox, seeing off compatriot West Ship Master - trained by Prunella Dobbs - by a length.
Barry Geraghty was also on the mark on a flying visit to Doncaster where he partnered the Nicky Henderson-trained Days Of Heaven (11/8) to a smooth success in the novice hurdle.
As for today's action at Doncaster it emerged last night that Easter Day will not run in the Skybet Chase, but will instead head to Cheltenham.
The Paul Nicholls-trained gelding had been the ante-post favourite for the Listed staying handicap in Yorkshire after he featured among the 15 initial declarations.
He was also declared for the Freebets.com Trophy Chase at Cheltenham, but connections had stated their first preference was to run at Doncaster. But Easter Day will now be rerouted to Prestbury Park.
As for the Skybet Chase, Philip Hobbs launches a formidable twin assault on the £75,000 contest, with stable jockey Richard Johnson partnering recent Musselburgh scorer Royal Player. The master of Minehead also saddles the JP McManus-owned If In Doubt, with Tony McCoy taking the ride.
The only Irish challenger in the field is Crawford's Yes Tom, which finished out with the washing on his seasonal return at Navan last month.
"Hopefully he's come on a lot for his last run, he's quite sharp," Crawford revealed. "It's a really nice pot to go for and hopefully he'll go well."