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Haydock: Macs Joy lands first big prize of season.

Byline: er: David Carr

day at a glance

Star performance

Macs Joy oozed class as he landed the Swinton Hurdle and is one to follow


Macs Joy's trainer Jessica Harrington has a 100-per-cent record at Haydock, having struck with her only previous runner, Space Trucker, six years ago

Business comes first

Trainer Alastair Whillans missed Kivotos' win in the big long-distance hurdle as he was selling knitwear at Badminton

First of many?

Top Australian jockey Kerrin McEvoy broke his duck in Britain when Destination Dubai took the maiden

MACS JOY enabled Irish trainer Jessica Harrington to repay an overdue debt to Timmy Murphy - and put down a marker for all the big handicap hurdles in 2004/05 - with a stylish victory in the pounds 70,000 Freephone Stanleybet Swinton Handicap Hurdle.

The five-year-old had been ante-post favourite to land the County Hurdle under Murphy at Cheltenham, only to bypass the race when the declaration of Rigmarole left him a stone out of the handicap.

He would have gone close in that contest judged on the way he disposed of 18 rivals here, cruising through to lead before the last flight and surviving a poor jump to justify 4-1 favouritism by two and a half lengths from Dancing Bay.

Harrington said: "You can see how sick I was over the County Hurdle - I was so sweet on him for that. It was gutting he couldn't go but I wouldn't run him a stone out of the handicap.

"He's not very big, but he's never stopped improving. He'll go to the field now and I suppose he'll be back for handicap hurdles in England next year."

Murphy feared he had got to the front too soon, and said: "When you're going that well, if something gets first run you'd never forgive yourself."

Top-weight Westender could finish only fifth in his bid to give Tony McCoy and Martin Pipe a last big-race winner, and the champion jockey and trainer had earlier been forced to settle for sixth with Tarxien in the long-distance handicap hurdle.

Victory in that contest went to Kivotos, giving Alastair Whillans one of the biggest wins of his career, though the trainer was not on hand.

"He's at Badminton, where he sells knitwear," said his wife Lesley. "We thought Kivotos had a big chance. We were worried the ground would be too fast but it was okay and he did it very well."

Dane O'Neill's front-running tactics paid off on Rockets 'N Rollers, who gamely held off Polar Ben by a short-head in the Listed seven-furlong contest.

"I spoke to the trainer's son, Richard Hannon jnr, in the morning and said there wasn't a lot of pace in the race," the jockey said. "So I made the running and it worked out perfectly. And I knew when they got to me they'd have to find a bit to get by as he's so tough."

Oscar Urbina, on the runner-up, and George Duffield, on third-placed Babodana, earned one-day bans that rule them out of the second day of the Dante meeting after being punished for using the whip with excessive frequency and careless riding respectively.

However, Duffield gained compensation with victory in the six-furlong conditions event on Duke Of York Stakes-bound Steenberg.

Brian Harding was banned for two days (May 12 and 13) for using his whip with excessive force on sixth-placed Active Account in the jockeys' challenge, which was won by Keith Dalgleish on Stoic Leader.

Kerrin McEvoy rode his first winner in Britain at the sixth attempt when Destination Dubai took the maiden.

"That's a monkey off my back," the Australian said. "He's a bit of a lazy fellow and needs a bit of riding to get his mind on the job. But he knuckled down and his best part of the race was the last furlong, so he's open to improvement."


Macs Joy, ridden by Timmy Murphy, jumps the final flight in the Swinton Hurdle ALEC RUSSELL
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:May 2, 2004
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