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Flanagan hurt in fall

Battle to be fit for Cheltenham Festival


Seán Flanagan is in a race against time to be fit for the Cheltenham Festival after suffering a fractured jaw

Seán Flanagan is in a race against time to be fit for the Cheltenham Festival after suffering a fractured jaw


Seán Flanagan is in a race against time to be fit for the Cheltenham Festival after suffering a fractured jaw

Jockey Seán Flanagan is battling to be fit for the Cheltenham Festival after being injured in a nasty looking incident at Naas on Saturday when coming down at the third-last obstacle on Noel Meade's Village Mystic in the 25-runner maiden hurdle won by Entoucas (4/5f) for Joseph O'Brien.

Flanagan was very much in touch when falling. He was removed to Naas hospital and was kept in overnight.

Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board senior medical officer, Dr. Jennifer Pugh, had bad and good news on Sunday: 'He suffered an undisplaced fracture of his jaw and is expected to return race-riding in three to four weeks. Spinal x-rays were clear.'

The Cheltenham Festival starts on Tuesday, March 10, exactly one month from today (Tuesday), so Seán will be hoping for a trouble-free recovery as this leaves the timetable pretty tight.

One of the most popular figures in the weighroom, everyone in racing will be wishing him the best and hoping he can take his place at the year's showcase event.

He had earlier won the opening €18.5k handicap chase on Meade's Valdieu (3/1jf) after taking it up at the second last and holding on well on the run-in.

He had half a length to spare over Halsafari (6/1) for Michael Bowe, with Meade also filling third with Red Jack (7/1) for JP McManus, eleven lengths back under Jonathan Moore.

Jamie Codd was placed in a point-to-point in Co. Down on Saturday before making the trip down to Naas to score impressively in the bumper on the Gordon Elliott-trained The Caretaker (11/4), building on a third-placed debut at the same track last month.

J.J. Slevin and Jonathan Moore recorded wins at Thurles on Thursday, with Seán O'Keeffe grabbing a treble of places.

Slevin scored on the Joseph O'Brien-trained hotshot, Sempo (8/11), in a maiden hurdle, with O'Keeffe doing well to get third, though well back, on John Brennan's Oscar Montel (50/1).

Moore won the next handicap hurdle on Cahirdown Boy (14/1) for Eric McNamara, cutting through the field to score snugly, with O'Keeffe again third, on Jimmy Mangan's 11/2 favourite, Capture the Action.

He was also third on Mosie McCabe's fancied Brog Ahaon (7/2f) in an earlier handicap chase.

The well-known Wexford-based Top of the Hill Syndicate had a promising second in the bumper with the well-backed Run for Oscar (7/4), trained by Charles Byrnes and ridden by his son, Patrick.

He only gave best in the final 50 yards to lose by three parts of a length.

The Top of the Hill outfit enjoyed enormous success with the Byrnes-trained mare, Solwhit, culminating with victory in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2013.

This was one of 13 wins and seven seconds in an illustrious career that netted over a €1 million in total. Run for Oscar has a lot to live up to, but the start has been promising.

It's a pity that the Punchestdown meeting on Sunday fell victim to the weather as it was to feature the return of dual Aintree Grand National winner, and four times Cheltenham Festival winner, Tiger Roll, one of the most popular horses in training.

In Doncaster on Thursday, Tom O'Brien had an easy win by 13 lengths on Zoffee (10/11) for Philip Hobbs.

On the flat in Britain, P.J. McDonald (Taghmon) has had five winners in the past two weeks since he resumed riding after a hard-earned month-long break over Christmas.

He won by a neck on Pinnata (7/4) at Kempton on Tuesday, and by half a length on Lucky's Dream (7/4) at Newcastle on Thursday.

Online Editors