McGarvey performs heroics on Great Field as Thief flops
Jody McGarvey pulled off a spectacular save on Great Field to take the novice chase before a small crowd on Leopardstown's last jumps meeting of the season.
Having produced a series of spectacular leaps from the front, the exciting tearaway repeated his Gowran antics by giving his supporters a fright with a bad mistake two out.
He jumped the last much better but did not negotiate his landing especially well. As a result, McGarvey lost control as the horse's head jolted upwards from near ground level, with the Coleraine native finding both of his feet on one side of the horse.
Crucially, he managed to maintain his right-foot's place in its iron, eventually threw the left leg over the horse and, such was the ascendancy which the 15/8 favourite enjoyed, he was able to get the better of Don't Touch It in a JP McManus 1-2.
Identity Thief, meanwhile, managed to complete on this occasion but his future looks a bit up in the air after a distinctly laboured performance. He was beaten a mile out.
McGarvey said of the winner: "He jumped super in the early part of the race. He was real quick but just doesn't have a lot of scope. At the last he knuckled at the back of it. I was rolling around on his back but luckily kept the partnership intact.
"He was very low over the last three at Gowran; it was the same at the second last today. He has a fair engine and is well able to pick himself up at the back of one after making a mistake and gallop on."
Willie Mullins paid tribute to McGarvey, hailing "a great performance by horse and rider".
Luke Dempsey excelled on front-running Mr Diablo (16/1), which belied his price for the rider's father Philip in the €50,000 handicap chase.
The trainer said: "I'm delighted for the owner, who hasn't been well. He may go to Punchestown for the race he was second in last year; long-term he could be a Galway Plate horse."
Shark Hanlon recorded a double, both running for owner David Mee. Hidden Cyclone (11/4f) rolled back the years with a game effort in the Foxrock Hurdle under Danny Mullins. Camlann (9/4f) followed up under Rachael Blackmore.
Mullins said of Hidden Cyclone: "He made a mistake early on that you would forgive a novice for doing but not from him. He jumped a bit right afterwards, and I had to let him regain his confidence down the back. In fairness he battled really well at the death."
Joseph O'Brien got a pre-Cheltenham boost when saddling the first three home in the bumper, Montjeu horse High Tide friendless in the market but scoring at 9/1 under Jamie Codd.
"It was impressive, wasn't it? I was going to give him a bit more time but Jamie rode him the other day and liked him quite a lot," said the young trainer.
Frank Berry, racing manager to JP McManus, confirmed that stablemate Edwulf would go for the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham under Derek O'Connor.
Karl Thornton did not conceal his belief pre-race that Paper Lantern would win the conditionals' handicap chase and he delivered under Donagh Meyler (6/1), while Wishmoor won the maiden hurdle for Mouse Morris at 12/1.
Morris said of RSA Chase-bound Alpha Des Obeaux: "He's as well as I can have him. His reputation is bigger than he is - so far."
The post-racing gallops saw Djakadam, the potential Timico Gold Cup favourite, school efficiently under Ruby Walsh but stablemate Bellshill, which is likely RSA Chase-bound, fell at his first fence under Patrick Mullins. He was not asked to jump again as he was a little sore.
Yorkhill was unimpressive early during his schooling session but improved markedly and finished full of running under Walsh ahead of a JLT Novice Chase assignment.
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