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Emotional Karen rides first winner on track for 12 years


Special moment: Karen Ferris after winning on Lusis Naturea at Down Royal last night
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Local amateur jockey Karen Ferris bridged a 12-year gap to win on Ulster-owned Lusis Naturea in the Hovis Hurdle at Down Royal last night.

The Eoin Barry-trained winner went clear after the final flight to triumph.

Ferris said: "This is my second track success - the last one was a long time ago, maybe about 12 years ago I'd say.

"I've been riding a few winners point-to-pointing."

She added: "The ground was better for him (than Downpatrick when third) and everything suited.

"The track suited him better - he prefers a big, galloping track."

Teenager Jack Kennedy gave favourite Smiling Eliza a very confident ride to claim the Allied Bakeries Maiden Hurdle.

The Gordon Elliott runner won despite demolishing the penultimate flight, with newcomer Hannon one to note finishing runner-up on his debut.

Elliott, who had four winners on Thursday in Ireland and Britain, said: "The horses are running well and everything is going in. She's honest and, you know, she mightn't be the fastest in the yard but she tries and she jumps great."

The Stephen Ryan-trained Red Pearl, with Davy Russell aboard, won the Dale Farm Dromona Mares Maiden Hurdle.

Ryan said: "She was very game and he (Russell) said he was always going to win. I thought turning in we were in trouble. On that ground she just wants to go a little farther. That is her ground.

"I knew going to Galway I was in trouble - the ground was just gone for her," Ryan added.

The Michael Butler-trained Optical Confusion landed a gamble (5s to 2/1) in the Pepsi Hurdle. The David Mullins-partnered winner prevailed with ease.

Mullins said: "I could feel him hanging on me a bit the whole way.

"I trusted him probably a little too much, I should have had a better hold of him."

Trainer Jessica Harrington can do no wrong at present and Woodland Opera put in a brave effort to claim the Irwins Hurdle.

Jockey Robbie Power said: "He toughed it out real well."

Fred The Foot claimed the Kerry Hurdle for trainer John McConnell and jockey Mark Bolger having been supported from 10s to 11/2.

The Charles Byrnes-trained Run For Mary recorded back to back victories from two starts in the bumper.

British race caller Darren Owen paid his first visit to the course and proved a big hit.

Belfast Telegraph

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Special moment: Karen Ferris after winning on Lusis Naturea at Down Royal last night