Sunday 15 December 2019

Door bags National glory

Jonjo O'Neill won the Boylesports Irish Grand National for the second time in eight years as the well-backed 8-1 favourite Shutthefrontdoor prevailed in a thrilling finish at Fairyhouse.

It was the first time Barry Geraghty had managed to get his hands on the famous prize, and he was close to the pace and travelling well in the JP McManus colours for most of the three miles and five furlongs.

But the Dessie Hughes-trained Golden Wonder made an attempt to slip the field at the home turn and it was only on the short run-in that Shutthefrontdoor poked his head in front as Golden Wonder settled for second, just ahead of Saoirse Dun and Jamsie Hall.

Lightly-weighted pair Toon River and Clar Na Mionn cut out the running for the first circuit, just ahead of Goonyella and Lion Na Bearnai, who was pulled-up in the Aintree version.

Clar Na Mionn found himself coming under severe pressure with four fences left to jump, and he was swallowed up by the closing pack.

O'Neill had last swooped in the 2007 renewal with Butler's Cabin, while his latest hero had looked a novice chaser to follow in the early stages of this season but made mistakes as one of the leading contenders for the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham and had finished only sixth.

O'Neill said: "He was in a great position all the way and jumped really well. Everything went right for him. He has done nothing wrong all season.

"He had a great run at Cheltenham and after that we thought this was the race for him. Plan B didn't work out too badly!

"He will have good rest and is hopefully OK and we can look forward to next season. He needed a big leap at the last, he got it and battled on really well."

PA Media

The Left Wing: John Cooney on Ulster's European run and bouncing back from World Cup disappointment

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport