The last night of summer brought a well deserved first win over hurdles for Smiling Eliza at Down Royal and I was delighted to witness my first win for GERC.
The going was still good to firm even though we’ve had quite a lot of rain recently. She was close to an evens favourite and looking down the card the only threat looked like being the other Elliott runner under Davy Russell. Eliza had Jack Kennedy onboard and when I watched the race back again it confirmed what I thought when watching it live – he gave her some ride. The start was delayed as Davy Russell’s horse had some sort of problem and he had to make his way from where they come out from the paddock up to the top of the hill at the start of the home straight to join the others. When they finally went off there was drama almost immediately with a faller at the first. Thankfully Eliza was ahead of it as Jack had her up in about 3rd or 4th where she likes to be. I was stood at the finish line and as they came past me the first time and round the corner to go to the next, Eliza pulled hard left but Jack got her back under control very quickly. I thought his saddle might have slipped or something but she seemed to be ok. He had her pretty handy the whole way round and eased out of some more trouble when a few horses bumped into each other with one taking out the rail. At the top of the hill for the final time, Jack eased her into the lead. She was still on the bridle and cruising with 2 to jump as she moved several lengths clear. She flattened the 2nd last but it didn’t knock her out of her stride, Jack popped her over the last and she powered up the hill to where I was stood celebrating at the finish line. What a fantastic feeling to see a club winner and great to see Eliza and Jack do it in such style.
I’ve uploaded a video below of before, during and after the race. I had a pass into the owners bar and was in the parade ring before to hear what Gordon had to say to Jack. There was probably about 10 from the club there to celebrate in the winners enclosure and the winners bar after. This is what it’s all about! It took a while but it was worth it and hopefully there is more to come from Smiling Eliza but not sure how she’ll go when the ground inevitably gets softer.