Patient Flanagan succeeds
New Ross rider Seán Flanagan showed all of his experience when landing the opening race at Down Royal's festive St. Patrick's Day meeting.
Riding Mount Beckham for trainer Claire Cannon, Flanagan was ultra-patient aboard the 8-1 shot in the Daily Mirror Maiden Hurdle and only made his challenge at the second last.
Mount Beckham made a mistake at the final hurdle but always had enough to hold on by half a length from Laid Back Luke, with Improver, at 7-1, back in third. The winner, trained in County Down, is owned by the trainer's father, Geoff Gannon.
Paul Nolan was delighted with the victory of Shadow Play under Davy Russell in the Downpatrick Racecourse Going The Extra Mile Handicap Chase.
Nolan said of the 7-2 joint-favourite: 'He did it well. He got his jumping right and the ground drying out helped. We thought a lot of him but he could be a horse that takes a bit of time. He stays well and jumped very well in first-time blinkers'.
On a poignant note, Jacqueline O'Brien, widow of the legendary trainer, Vincent O'Brien, died in Dublin recently. She was 89.
Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland, was among those to pay tribute and said: 'It is very poignant on the opening day of Cheltenham,
a place that Jacqueline and Vincent were so closely associated with for many years. It is a really sad day.
'She was much more than just the wife of Vincent O'Brien: in her own right she was a fantastic lady - a very talented photographer, very talented fundraiser, philanthropist and a key member of the Ballydoyle team through the golden years.'
Mrs. O'Brien married her husband in 1951 after travelling to Ireland from her native Australia. They had five children. Vincent O'Brien died in 2009, aged 92. Their son, David, trained Secreto to win the Epsom Derby in 1984.