Sport Horse Racing

Friday 15 December 2017

Lynch aiming to give Sam famous double

Sam Waley-Cohen: National tilt Photo: PA
Sam Waley-Cohen: National tilt Photo: PA

Marcus Armytage

If Sam Waley-Cohen is to become the first amateur and only the fifth jockey to complete the Gold Cup and Grand National double in the same season then, apart from his mount Oscar Time and a romantic attachment to Lady Luck for 10 minutes, he is relying on trainer Martin Lynch.

In that department he is, at least, in safe hands. Lynch (52) rode for six years in Britain.

Among the good horses he was associated with were Auntie Dot, Nick The Brief, Elfast and Cool Ground, on which he was a last-minute substitute as the gelding attempted an elusive Gold Cup-National double himself in 1992. After his Cheltenham exertions the horse finished 10th, running flat all the way.

Lynch's career as a jockey came to an end a week before the 1993 National when he was schooling, ironically, the Waley-Cohen-owned Won't Be Gone Long at Towcester. The horse fell, leaving the jockey with a broken vertebra.

"A week later, I watched Richard Dunwoody get the starting tape wrapped round his neck on the horse in the 'void' National," Lynch recalled.

"My only other ride was Barney Maclyvie in Aldaniti's National (1981). I'd been booked to ride him since Christmas. He fell at the first, which was a huge, huge anti-climax. I limped over to the rails and, as a keen young pro, thought it had ruined my career.

"I sat there swearing and then there was a tap on my shoulder. It was a priest, making the sign of the cross, saying, 'I don't blame you son'. There can't be many jockeys who have received absolution on the landing side of the first at Aintree!"

Lynch is now in a second spell as a small trainer, who also trades in bloodstock. His yard, close to the village of Castletown-Geoghegan in Westmeath, has a mixed history.

Once the family home of the Boyd-Rochforts, the old granite stables enjoyed their high point when Lt Col Harold Boyd-Rochfort bred the 1946 Derby winner, Airborne, there.

The low point was when pigs were kept there and its most colourful period was when it was owned by Barney Curley who, when unable to sell it by normal means, made the estate the prize in a lottery.

Lynch sent out Colonel Yeager, his only previous runner in Britain, to finish fourth in the 1999 Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham and briefly retired to become an adviser to Irish Thoroughbred Marketing.

But after five years he missed it sufficiently to start again, with the unbroken Oscar Time one of his first purchases.

"He's been very consistent all the way through," he said of the 10-year-old. "He has pace and always travels sweetly. I don't think Sam will have a problem with the pace they go in the National.

"Like a lot of Oscar's (his sire), you need to leave it as late as possible. I'd hate to see him upsides in front at the last!"


There were offers for Oscar Time all through his career, but his previous owner was unwilling to sell until last autumn. The likelihood was that the horse would be sold to England, so Lynch asked for time to find an owner to keep him in the yard.

"Robert (Waley-Cohen) was the first person I thought of," he said. "I knew of his ambition to win the National and that I had a sound, genuine horse, which fitted the bill. I phoned him on a Monday, they came on Thursday, and they had the deal done before they left.

"Winning the National would mean a lot to me, and a lot to the locality," added Lynch. "The old boys are still talking about the 1945 Derby winner in the pub, so it would be nice to give them something else to talk about." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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