Thursday 14 December 2017

Distraught Mangan plots return for Oscar

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Jimmy Mangan will look to the upcoming Festivals at Fairyhouse and Punchestown to erase the memory of Oscar Delta's galling exit from last week's Foxhunters' Chase at Cheltenham.

Shortly after his 10-year-old jumped the final fence clear of the 2012 hero Salsify, the Conna handler, who won the Aintree Grand National with Monty's Pass 10 years ago, found himself rushing to the track to console his 19-year-old daughter Jane.

The precociously talented seven-pound claimer got unseated when her mount jinked off a straight line halfway up the run-in, leaving Colman Sweeney to secure an unprecedented third win in the race on Salsify.

Jimmy's wife Mary was also captured live on television trying to comfort the distraught rider, as the family mood went from elation to despair in a matter of strides.

Oscar Delta had finished third in the previous two renewals, and the traumatic fashion in which his teenage rider was denied her moment of glory was one of the Festival's most poignant moments.

Nonetheless, the Mangans were quick to point out that their distress paled in comparison to that of JT McNamara.

The previous day, McNamara had been airlifted to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, where he remains in an induced coma after fracturing his C3 and C4 vertebrae.

"The horse has come home 100pc and Jane didn't get hurt, so it's not the end of the world," Mangan reiterated yesterday.

"When you think about what happened to poor JT, our little problems are nothing."

Mangan revealed that the family had been inundated with support over the past week.

"Even this morning, there were letters from people all over England and even a letter from America," he said. "I think everyone just felt sorry for Jane more than anything. What happened shouldn't have happened, but we'll get over it.

"Jane gave the horse the perfect ride. She hasn't actually ridden a winner of a chase yet, so to do that at the Cheltenham Festival would have been fantastic.


"She nearly did it, unfortunately it wasn't to be, but she's young and gets a lot of support from the likes of Gigginstown, so hopefully she'll get another opportunity and get that Cheltenham win one day."

Last year, Oscar Delta capitalised on Salsify's late fall to win the Joseph O'Reilly Memorial Hunters' Chase at Fairyhouse, and the same Easter Tuesday event is under consideration again.

"The options are Fairyhouse and Punchestown," Mangan confirmed.

"I'll only run him if I think he's got a serious chance. Ground is the key to him. On faster ground, Salsify has too much toe, but softer ground gives him a chance."

Oscar Delta began his career with Ray Hurley in Clonakilty. He is owned by Bandon's Karen O'Driscoll, a niece of Edward and Kathleen O'Driscoll, who owned Hurley's 2006 brilliant Foxhunters' victor Whyso Mayo, which was second to the McNamara-ridden Drombeag in 2007.

Cottage Oak, third of the four finishers last Friday, is one of 35 horses that have been entered in the equivalent Foxhunters over Aintree's Grand National fences on April 4.

Willie Mullins' 2011 runner-up Boxer Georg is engaged again, likewise Brian Hamilton's Warne and Ted Walsh's Battlefront, first and third in a decent contest at Fairyhouse last month.

The John Smith's-sponsored event in Liverpool is over two miles and five furlongs, a trip that Hamilton feels will suit his nine-year-old.

"He is quite trip-dependent and that is why we planned to go to Aintree – we never even thought about going to Cheltenham," the Downpatrick handler explained of Warne.

"He is a very good jumper – quick and accurate – and I am hoping he gives a good account of himself. If he jumps round, he would have a good chance."

One rider who won't be taking part in either the Fairyhouse or Aintree hunter chases is Nina Carberry.

On Easter Monday, the leading amateur rider is also set to miss the Ladbrokes Irish Grand National that she won on Organisedconfusion in 2011, as well as the entire Aintree Festival, having received a seven-day ban for her use of the whip on Tofino Bay at Cheltenham.

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