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Sunday 19 January 2020

Hot-shot toppled

Nolan and Mernagh upset favourite

Alfa Mix, left, with Jonathan Moore on board, jumps the last,alongside eventual third place Drumacoo, ridden by Rachael Blackmore, on their way to winning the Tara Handicap Hurdle at Navan
Alfa Mix, left, with Jonathan Moore on board, jumps the last,alongside eventual third place Drumacoo, ridden by Rachael Blackmore, on their way to winning the Tara Handicap Hurdle at Navan

It was a quiet enough week on the home front for the Wexford jumps connections but they made a big impact in the final meeting, at Navan on Sunday, the highlight being a major Paul Nolan upset with the Jim Mernagh owned and bred Latest Exhibition (5/1), under Bryan Cooper.

They beat odds-on favourite Andy Dufresne (1/3) for Gordon Elliott and JP McManus in a €42,500 Grade 2 novice hurdle.

The race nearly ended early for Nolan's charge as he made a very bad mistake at the sixth hurdle but he recovered well and finished strongly.

All being well Nolan will line up a grade 1 outing at Leopardstown's Dublin Festival next and the ultimate aim is the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival.

Jamie Codd rode Andy Dufresne to win his point-to-point maiden at Borris House in March of last year and he was sold for £330,000 to Elliott who passed him on to JP McManus. It's too early to write him off.

Jonathan Moore and Gavin Cromwell struck yet again in the €50k Tara handicap hurdle over two and half miles on Alfa Mix (8/1), staying on well to hold off Joseph O'Brien's favourite, Top Moon (9/4), ridden by Mark Walsh for JP McManus.

The previous day at Fairyhouse Moore and Cromwell won with hot-shot, Wolf Prince (9/10), in a three-year-old maiden hurdle, cruising in by 14 lengths, despite a mistake at the last.

Seán Flanagan had a couple of seconds at Navan on Sunday, on Brosna George (50/1) for Arthur Moore, well behind Robbie Power on An Fraoch Mor (3/1), and on Noel Meade's Joshua Webb (5/1), just half a length behind Run Wild Fred (11/4) for Elliott and Jack Kennedy.

At Tramore on Tuesday there were three placings - J.J. Slevin was second on Rescue Package (28/1) for Tony Mullins; Jonathan Moore was second Gavin Cromwell's Tokyo Getaway (9/2f) and Seán O'Keeffe was third of 12 on Ask Heather (5/1) for Declan Queally.

The hard-working Pat McDonald from Taghmon had 21 rides during the week and produced just three winners which pushed him to a new seasonal record - Corked (11/2) at Newcastle on Monday, and a cracking 130/1 double at Kempton on Maysong (12/1) for Ed Dunlop and Starcat (9/1) for Hughie Morrison.

These wins gave him a calendar year total of 130 winners with a couple of weeks still to go, and total winnings of almost £2 million. He also had 129 seconds. He is in sixth place in the British flat jockeys table.

He had 128 winners in 2017 and 120 last year, the only times he has made the century. He is on 926 winners since 2007, having had just one winner from 34 rides when a young lad in 2006 and 2005.

He was concentrating on the jumps in those early years, mostly for his fellow Wexford man, trainer Ferdy Murphy, who died earlier this year. His first big success was on Hot Weld for Ferdy in the 2007 Scottish Grand National, and it was on his mentor's advice that he turned to the flat shortly after that.

Last week I recorded an up and down weekend for Daryl Jacob; he picked up a battered and bruised face in the first at Sandown last Friday week and was stood down for the day. He had five decent rides on the Tingle Creek card on Saturday and he lined up though looking the worst for wear but had little success.

He did gain compensation Sunday in the £65,000 Grade 2 Peterborough Chase, the big race of the year at Huntingdon, on Nicky Henderson's Top Notch (15/8), ahead of 100/1 shot, Kauto Riko.

Things took a serious turn for the worst the next day at Musselburgh when falling at the third last on Ben Pauling's Guena Des Mottes; he quite badly injured his hand and is going to miss all the big racing over the Christmas period, notably Footpad in the King George Chase at Kempton on December 26.

It was rotten luck for the Davidstown man as he would surely have been flying over to Leopardstown also for a few choice rides on horses trained in Ireland for his retained owners, Munir and Souede.

All attention is now switching to the major racing events after Christmas, with four-day festivals at Leopardstown and Limerick, and the King George and several other major races at Kempton, all starting on St. Stephen's Day.

Wexford People

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