Downpatrick support races: Luke Dempsey makes most of chance on The Very Man

Sun 22 Mar 2020

Jockey Luke Dempsey made the most of an unexpected opportunity as The Very Man continued his return to form with a decisive victory in the WKD Rated Hurdle at Downpatrick.

Gordon Elliott found another opportunity for The Very Man, whose maiden hurdle success at Naas last month was his first since a Navan bumper win in December 2018.

Dempsey was taking over in the saddle from Davy Russell – who sat out his Sunday rides, still feeling sore after a spill at Thurles 24 hours earlier.

Russell’s replacement had the Gigginstown House Stud-owned six-year-old bang in contention entering the straight as they and outsider Jimmy Two Times took over from Kasakh Noir.

It still looked a good battle at the last, but The Very Man then surged clear to win by eight lengths at 9-4, with favourite Wajaaha collaring Jimmy Two Times for second.

Elliott expects the winner to continue to improve.

He said: “He’s a grand sort. He had been beaten a few times, but in fairness to him he had some lovely runs and bumped into a few (decent) horses. I like the way he stayed galloping – he’ll be OK.”

The opening Connolly’s Red Mills Irish EBF Auction Maiden Hurdle went to Barnaviddaun, ridden by David Mullins for his father, Tom.

It was a second successive winning ride for Mullins, following his graded success on Zero Ten at Thurles.

He had the 9-2 shot just in front running to the second-last, and they stayed on best to win by half a length from Hesamanofhisword, with hard-pulling favourite Vinnie Is Busy having to settle for third.

The winner was breaking his duck after being second the last twice, and Mullins said: “His last two runs were probably a bit sharp for him around Leopardstown, and I was only getting to know him around Fairyhouse.

“He stays well and is a big chaser in the making. He’s a well-deserved winner and it is great for his owner.”

Colin McBratney was singing the praises of Denis O’Regan after he guided Benefit North to a first win under rules at Downpatrick.

Local trainer McBratney won the Galway Plate with Ballyholland in 2009 and Benefit North sported the same white and yellow silks of owner Cathal McGovern in the Racing TV Handicap Hurdle

Having initially dropped in, O’Regan moved his mount into a clear advantage four out and it was a lead he would not relinquish, coming home a length and three-quarters clear of Kilmurry to reward punters at 20-1.

“That was a great ride from Denis and he’s a great man to have on board,” said McBratney.

“He’s a very, very pacey horse. He travels so easy and we knew he would travel at the top of the hill. He got a couple of lengths and was able to freewheel down the hill.

“I was expecting a good run. Bryan Cooper rode him in Leopardstown the last day and said he was only in second gear when he fell at the second-last.

“The form has since been franked, so we thought we were going to be bang there today.

“There was a bit of money for him, but we have nothing to spend it on!”

McBratney also saddled Castlebawn to finish second at 100-1 in the hunter chase behind David Christie’s On The Sod, who was maintaining his unbeaten career record.

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