Miss Blanche and Richie Deegan
©Healy Racing Photos
Nobody thought we'd be talking too long about the Downpatrick hunter chase after the event. However maybe its name gave a clue of what was to come as the Very Special-titled two and three quarter miler was drama filled.
It began early. Strideout Euro was leading when he slipped up on the first bend and no less than four of his rivals were brought down.
If that wasn't bad enough Mullaghmurphy Blue was forced wide and he slipped up independently. Clondaw Frisby was also later reported to have slipped up independently.
That left us with four and no doubt supporters of the well-backed favourite Eddies Miracle were happy with their investment.
'Bon' O'Neill's mount couldn't get the job done though. He was in front when falling at the second last fence.
From there Miss Blanche (20/1 shot with Richie Deegan in the plate) was left to come home five and a half lengths and a head in front of her remaining rivals, Cant Pay Wont Pay and Isle Road.
Thankfully there were no reports of serious injury afterwards.
Meanwhile winning trainer Mark McNiff said: "I thought the horse in the third (Ashjan - second) would win, and was hoping the lad in the first (Atlantic Breaker - third) would win. You can't beat luck though!
"I was afraid of nothing but the horse that fell at the second last (Eddies Miracle). I thought we could beat everything bar David Christie's horse realistically now.
"She's a 95,000 pound three-year-old who has won a point-to-point and a chase on the track. She's a valuable commodity now. She was bought as a broodmare, that was the original plan to see if we could do something on the track to enhance her value."
The Stewards received reports from seven riders in relation to the falls of their mounts at a turning point on the approach to the fence past the stands.
Mr D. O'Connor, rider of Chosen Dream, reported that his mount was unable to avoid being brought down, Mr M.J. O'Hare, rider of Clondaw Frisby, reported that his mount lost his legs at a turning point and slipped up independently, Mr T. Reilly, rider of Broadmeadow Ridge, reported that his mount was brought down, Mr N. Gault, rider of Lisnagreggan, reported that his mount was brought down, Mr S. Clements, rider of Mullaghmurphy Blue, reported that his mount had avoided the fallers but slipped up independently having lost his hind legs, Mr E.P. O'Brien, rider of Strideout Euro, reported that he was in the lead when his mount lost his legs at a turning point and slipped up independently and Mr S.P. Kelly, rider of Howwouldsheknow, reported that his mount was brought down.
Having considered the reports and viewed the video recording of that part of the race, the Stewards were satisfied that the incident was accidental and took no action.
(MG & EM)