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Dublin: 0°C Friday 27 November 2020
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Castlegrace Paddy overcomes A Plus Tard at Navan

It was clear some way from home it was not going to be entirely straightforward for the 1-2 favourite.

Castlegrace Paddy ridden by Bryan Cooper (right) wins the Tote Fortria Chase at Navan Racecourse.
Castlegrace Paddy ridden by Bryan Cooper (right) wins the Tote Fortria Chase at Navan Racecourse.
Image: PA

CASTLEGRACE PADDY proved too strong for hot favourite A Plus Tard in the Tote Fortria Chase at Navan.

Henry de Bromhead’s A Plus Tard filled the runner-up spot behind Ballyoisin in last year’s renewal of the Grade Two contest – and having since won a Grade One at Leopardstown and finished a close-up third in the Ryanair at Cheltenham, he was well fancied to go one better.

However, it was clear some way from home it was not going to be entirely straightforward for the 1-2 favourite, as he jumped stickily on occasions under Rachael Blackmore behind his pacesetting stablemate Ornua.

After the latter dropped away early in the home straight, Pat Fahy’s stable star Castlegrace Paddy (9-1) took over the lead, with both A Plus Tard and Eclair De Beaufeu in hot pursuit.

In the end it turned into a straight shootout and try as he might, A Plus Tard could never quite get on terms with Castlegrace Paddy, who passed the post half a length to the good in the hands of Bryan Cooper.

“He jumped brilliant and himself and Bryan seem to get on very well,” said Fahy.

“Hopefully we can keep going in this direction. We won the Hilly Way Chase in Cork a couple of years ago, but didn’t have a great year after that, so we won’t get too carried away.

“More than likely we’ll look at Leopardstown over Christmas. He’s beaten a horse there that will probably improve a lot, but so will ours – I’d rate him him a serious horse.

“Maybe if the ground was good you’d be looking to go up in trip, but on that sort of ground I think that (two miles) is his trip.”

Elsewhere, The Jam Man made the most of a lenient mark over fences with a wide-margin victory in the Ladbrokes Troytown Chase.

Ronan McNally’s charge has a rating of 143 over hurdles following seven victories, but returned to the larger obstacles for the first time since winning at Cartmel in June of last year a stone lower in the weights.

Fit from a recent spell on the Flat – including a victory on his latest outing at York last month – The Jam Man was a heavily supported 5-2 favourite for his shrewd connections, and ultimately got the job done with the minimum of fuss.

With champion jockey Paul Townend in the saddle, the seven-year-old was settled towards the rear for much of the three-mile contest before making smooth headway before the home turn.

The Jam Man cruised to the front in the straight and pulled right away between the final two fences – passing the winning line 18 lengths clear of Roaring Bull, with Scoir Mear and Discordantly third and fourth respectively.

McNally said: “I’m emotional after winning that. We hoped he could do that, but whether he could do it over fences or not was another thing as he’s only a pony.

“Going around the paddock against those big horses, he was dwarfed. I walked the track early, I went down to the last and then to the open ditch and thought ‘am I wise doing what I’m doing’?

“Paul was majestic on him and the horse was unbelievable. We’re so proud of him to jump around there the way he did.”

McNally is enjoying an excellent campaign, having also trained both The Trigger and Dreal Deal to win five races in a row since July, and the trainer is keen to pay tribute to his young son Kian, or ‘Tubbs’ as he is affectionately known.

He added: “It’s a pity for ‘Tubbs’, who is at home. It would have been unbelievable if he was here as he does a lot of work with him at home. It’s a pity he’s not able to share it with us.

“We’ve had a great run of it, but we put a lot of work into it and a lot of money into it. I think we deserve the success we get, the horses are treated brilliantly and they are are rewarding us for the care we give them.”

On future plans for The Jam Man, McNally said: “I could see him going back to England now. There is a Grade Three (hurdle race) at Haydock and a Grade One at Ascot.

“We’ve unfinished business from last year as that wasn’t his run in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham (finished ninth). He had aspergillus when he ran in that and I’d love to go back and have another crack.

“I’m not saying he’s good enough for a Grade One, but I’d love to go back and give him a chance when he’s healthy and see how he goes.

“I don’t think he’s scopey enough to be a Grade One horse over fences. Paul said there if he hadn’t been well handicapped over fences and he had to go looking for big jumps towards the end, you could have been in trouble.”

Townend had earlier produced N’Golo with a well-time late run to claim the Grade Three For Auction Novice Hurdle for Willie Mullins.

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Despite having won two of his three previous starts over obstacles for the champion trainer, the grey was a 9-1 shot for his latest assignment, but finished with a flourish to score by a length and a half from Annexation.

Hot favourite Eskylane was only fifth.

“It worked out for us. The tongue-tie probably helped on that ground,” said Townend.

“I think he’s stepped up today, to carry the penalty, and it was a nice performance out of him.

“He could go further, definitely, and even today we thought in that grade, two miles might be sharp enough for him.”

There was a thrilling climax to the opening Ladbrokes Giving Extra Places Every Day Maiden Hurdle, with Noel Meade’s 6-4 shot Joshua Webb edging out even-money favourite Grangeclare Native by a head under Sean Flanagan.

The stewards called an inquiry after the pair came close together in the closing stages, but the placings remained unaltered.

Meade said: “I’d say he’s a nice horse. He’ll go on for a novice now and we’ll see what way the handicapper rates him.”

Flanagan later steered Easywork to make a winning debut over fences for Gordon Elliott in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase.

The six-year-old mixed it at the very highest level as a novice hurdler last season, most notably filling the runner-up spot behind esteemed stablemate Envoi Allen in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

He was the 8-11 favourite to make a successful transition to the larger obstacles and came home almost three lengths clear of fellow Gigginstown House Stud-owned runner Embittered.

Elliott said: “I thought it was a good performance. Sean said he hurdled the second fence a bit, but was foot perfect after.

“He’s having a good blow and I think he’ll be better when he steps up in trip. He’s in the Drinmore in Fairyhouse, but I don’t know if that will come a bit too soon – we might find something a bit smaller first and then we could look at Christmas for a Grade One.”

Finally, dual Cheltenham Festival hero Sire Du Berlais made a winning return to action in the Lismullen Hurdle.

The JP McManus-owned eight-year-old has won the last two renewals of the Pertemps Final at the showpiece meeting in the Cotswolds for Gordon Elliott, but faced a step up in class and a drop in trip for this two-and-a-half-mile Grade Two.

The blinkered 9-2 chance was on the heels of the leaders rounding the home turn and responded to Mark Walsh’s urgings on the run-in to get up and beat long-time leader French Dynamite by half a length.

Matthew Smith’s stable star Ronald Pump was the 9-4 favourite on his first start since filling the runner-up spot in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, and was not completely done with when crashing out at the final obstacle.

Noel Meade’s Sixshooter finished third.

Elliott said: “It was a good performance. Mark said he needed the whole length of the straight to get there – he wants three miles.

“Obviously I’ll have to speak to Frank (Berry, owner’s racing manager) and JP, but I’d imagine the three-mile race in Leopardstown at Christmas would be the place to go with him now. He has no choice really now but to go for a Grade One.

“He’s been a great little horse around the yard. The Stayers’ Hurdle would look the race for him long-term.”

Paddy Power cut Sire Du Berlais to 10-1 from 16-1 for the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham next March.

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