By Shaun O’Dea
ARMAGH trainer Ronan McNally topped the bill when supplying a shock result with The Jam Man claiming Saturday’s feature race at Navan – the £80,000 handicap hurdle, beating the hot favourite Tout Est Permis into second. The 33/1 winner, partnered by Sean Flanagan, despite being twice impeded in the course of the race travelled smoothly behind the last two flights and kept resolutely on the run-in to score.
McNally, who was winning the biggest prize of his career, said: “This sounds stupid but I looked at Paisley Park’s form last year and he was rated 140 starting off the season and I thought if I aim him at a good pot or two and he wins he’s a Stayers’ Hurdle horse. He has gears at the end for the three-milers – he’s awesome.
“I haven’t killed him with work so he’s going to improve massively from that. That was a big pot today and we’ll have to aim for the big guns now. He’s won nine for me and he’s only six. I bought him for £10,000. The fella that owned him was killed in a car accident and that’s how I ended up buying him – it’s a fairytale!
“I didn’t have a penny on him today and just want to go and enjoy him now. He’s going to be a fun horse as he’s at the rating now that we’re going to go and have a few nice days. I’ll probably go to England for one of those trials.
“I’m looking at what Paisley Park was going in last year. He started at 140 and we started at 139 but we went the hard road and have earned our mark. He didn’t just run in a novice hurdle and end up with 140. He’s built up through the ranks and has improved.
“It might sound stupid thinking of the Stayers’ Hurdle and he could go for a Pertemps Hurdle or something like that but you can dream anyway. My son ‘Tubs’ rides him out at home.”
Native River continues to fly the flag for Ulster breeding winning his twelfth race when landing the Grade 2 at Aintree and is only £20,000 short of hitting the million pound mark in prize money for connections trainer Colin Tizzard and Richard Johnson, with the horse bred by the Dromore- based Mackey family. The winner of last year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup having finished third in 2017 Native River again has the blue riband contest as his ultimate seasonal target.
Larne trainer Stuart Crawford claimed the concluding bumper at Weatherby with Teasing Georgia with Conor O’Farrell aboard on her debut. Ulster jockey Danny McMenamin continued his excellent season when winning on Nuts Well at Weatherby binging his tally for the current season to 19.
Frankly All Talk, trained at Armagh by Keith Watson and partnered by Paddy O’Hanlon, gave a dour staying performance to land the handicap chase at Punchestown on Sunday. Watson said: “It was in the balance the last time (fell Downpatrick) but that has made up for it. We’ll probably go on now to Leopardstown over Christmas. We think he’s a nice horse and the long term plan could be something like an Ulster National.”
Meanwhile, at Punchestown champion trainer Willie Mullins advised that Douvan will be out of action until the new year. Davy Russell was taken ill in the paddock in the preceding race before being re-united with Presenting Percy which finished third in the feature Chase with Johnny Slevin aboard – running a fine race on his return to action.