Friday 22 March 2019

McManus basks in further glory after 139/1 treble

Owner JP McManus following the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle on Day Two of the Cheltenham Racing Festival. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Owner JP McManus following the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle on Day Two of the Cheltenham Racing Festival. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Just when it looked like things couldn't get any better for JP McManus, the powerful Limerick owner proved to be the toast of punters with a 139/1 treble on day three of the Cheltenham Festival.

Still basking in the All-Ireland SHC success of his beloved Limerick last August, McManus finished the day on 58 Festival winners (and counting) including Grade One success for Defi Du Seuil (3/1 favourite) in the opening JLT Novices' Chase.

Barry Geraghty was the man in the saddle for that success and the 39-year-old Meath jockey was again seen to good effect when lifting home the Gordon Elliott-trained Sire Du Berlais (4/1 favourite) by a neck in the Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle.

Things got even better for McManus when the Ted Walsh-trained Any Second Now (6/1) finished the day in style to land the Kim Muir Challenge Cup in the hands of crack amateur Derek O'Connor.

McManus looks to be in an unassailable position as Leading Owner of this year's Festival with four winners and four seconds, two ahead of Sullivan Bloodstock and Cheveley Park, but it's been a disappointing week thus far for Gigginstown House Stud with just one win under their belt.

McManus will be hoping to add his second Gold Cup (Synchronised in 2012) today when last year's third Anibale Fly bids to go two places better for Meath trainer Tony Martin, but most eyes are on Presenting Percy.

Philip Reynolds reported the brilliant eight-year-old - trained in the Galway town of Athenry by Pat Kelly - to be primed, but the owner is nervous ahead of his date with destiny.

"He's been favourite for the Gold Cup since he won the RSA last year, and it's very hard to put it out of your mind - particularly when you're on the run-up to the race," Reynolds said.

"It's easier when he's in Pat's and I know he's being looked after and couldn't be in better hands. But when we're in the parade ring before a race, it's terrifying, to be honest. I expect it will be much the same on Friday."

Geraghty's two victories propelled him into Leading Jockey for the week but Mark Walsh, Nico de Boinville and Jamie Codd are hot on his heels, also with two wins apiece.

Willie Mullins - bidding for his first Gold Cup with a quartet of challengers - edged ahead for the Irish Independent Leading Trainer Award with three winners, but it's all to play for with Nicky Henderson and Elliott in close pursuit with a trio of wins each.

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