Thursday 22 February 2018

Big day for McNamara but winning debut looks doubtful

Robbie McNamara. Photo: Tony Gavin
Robbie McNamara. Photo: Tony Gavin
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Robbie McNamara will look begin his training career with a flourish when he sends four runners to this evening's jumps spread at Cork.

Confined to a wheelchair since suffering injuries that left him paralysed from the waist down following a fall at Wexford in April 2015, McNamara has been resolute in his ambition to train.

Dr Ronan Lambe, for whom McNamara rode a 2014 Cheltenham Festival brace aboard Silver Concorde and Spring Heeled, has pledged his support to the aspiring 27-year-old handler, and he owns two of tonight's runners from the fledgling Curragh stable.

Chadic, a Flat recruit, will be McNamara's first runner in the opening maiden hurdle, promptly followed by the Taunton bumper runner-up Flush Or Bust in a similar contest.

The former Dermot Weld-trained Call Vinnie will then contest the three-mile maiden, before the point-to-point runner-up Rathcannon tackles the bumper.

On paper, each of the quartet has a genuine chance, although, while everyone in the industry will wish McNamara the best and hope that he fulfils his stated aim of an immediate winner, others are preferred.

In Call Vinnie's race, Kieran Purcell's Battle Of Clontarf appeals as nap material under Andrew Lynch. Tom Mullins' Indian Court is a danger, but Battle Of Clontarf is unexposed.

As a dual point-to-point winner on good ground, he will enjoy the decent surface, and he has shown up well in both of his track starts. Third on his Tramore debut, he followed up with a one-paced turn to be an improved fourth to El Vasco at Gowran Park.

He is clearly progressing, and the step up to three miles will bring about further improvement.

In the curtain-raising two-miler, Grand National-winning rider David Mullins returns after five weeks on the sidelines with a broken collarbone and collapsed lung. He partners Walkers Point for David O'Brien, and might enjoy a comeback triumph.

Although disappointing at Tramore, Walkers Point won a bumper here last year. On his penultimate Clonmel start, he confirmed his potential when second, and this is winnable.

In the conditions hurdle, Willie Mullins will be hoping that classy Flat stayer Simenon can rekindle its enthusiasm.

Stable-mate McKinley and Shanpallas are capable of foiling Simenon, but Ruby Walsh should be able to extend his 100pc record at Cork (2-2) on the 2013 Gold Cup runner-up.

At Navan, Michael O'Callaghan's Giselle's Charm is worth a look in the two-year-olds' maiden. Pat Smullen's mount stepped up on her debut to be second to Brooklyn's Rose at Fairyhouse, and should have more to give.

Meanwhile, Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning combined to plunder the first four races at Leopardstown last night at massive collective odds of 1,259/1.

Newcomers Radio Silence (9/10 fav) and Cirin Toinne (12/1) got proceedings underway in style, before Brontide (16/1) and Qatari Hunter (2/1 fav) - itself completing a four-timer - rounded off a memorable evening for the old firm. "I've had a few five-timers but I'm not sure if I've had four out of four before," quipped a delighted Bolger.

Irish Independent

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