Sunday 19 November 2017

WATCH - Great Field hugely impressive in Ryanair Novice Chase win despite saddle slipping

27 April 2017; Jody McGarvey celebrates after winning the Ryanair Novice Steeplechase on Jody McGarvey at Punchestown Racecourse in Naas, Co. Kildare. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
27 April 2017; Jody McGarvey celebrates after winning the Ryanair Novice Steeplechase on Jody McGarvey at Punchestown Racecourse in Naas, Co. Kildare. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Great Field provided Willie Mullins with a valuable Grade One prize and in the process gave jockey Jody McGarvey this biggest success of his career in the Ryanair Novice Chase at Punchestown.

Mullins has taken gentle steps with the JP McManus-owned six-year-old as he has a tendency to get over-excited.

That can spill over into his races and watching him is a thrill-a-minute but McGarvey has struck up a great relationship with him.

His last two victories had been headlined by late mistakes but there were no such scares this time and big-race glory never looked in doubt.

Nothing could go with him early on but McGarvey gave him a breather before the final bend, allowing Ordinary World to get to within a length.

A quick squeeze with his legs and another perfect leap later, though, and the race was over, with the 9-10 favourite coming home 11 lengths clear of Ordinary World with Gordon Elliott's Ball D'Arc third.

Despite it looking straightforward McGarvey explained there was the odd moment of doubt.

McGarvey said: "My saddle had slipped going to the second-last. He can give one or two a rub, got in a bit tight to one and it brought the girth with him.

"I was just hoping it would stay intact until I got over the last, so it was a sigh of relief to say the least when we got away safely.

"What a horse and what an engine, nothing beats this, a couple of times I was long but he came up. He has his own way of doing it, but he was rock solid on his feet. I'm very lucky.

"It's the best feeling in the world, I'll go a while before something tops that.

"At the start of the year I was only hoping for a ride at the Festivals, I never dreamt I'd be coming here riding an odds-on shot for Willie Mullins in a Grade One."

Mullins said: "He's a young man's ride, that's for sure, but him and Jody get on well.

"There was much less worry today than other days and that was probably the better ground.

"Jody asked some questions that he wanted to be asked and he answered them. We'll put him away now and concentrate on next year.

"He's a horse with a super engine and plenty of pace. He likes to get on and do the job and he loves jumping. He's obviously got huge talent."

When questioned about how McGarvey came to ride the gelding Mullins said: "I think he might have been the second or third of JP's in the race (on his chase debut) and Jody was happy to ride him.

"That suited us as we had other runners in the race and if they're happy with Jody I'm happy with him.

"We'll look at next year when it comes around. I haven't chatted to either JP or Frank (Berry) and I'm sure they'll have plans. They have a lot of horses and they have to keep them apart as well. It's not just about what I think.

"He's fantastic. I've been amazed at what he's been doing on his first couple of runs. His antics over the last few fences were taking the shine off his ability away, but today when he jumped clear you can really see him for what he is.

"We've always thought he was a fantastic horse and were disappointed when he pulled up at Cheltenham last year.

"He's always a horse that's showed a lot and the day he won in Leopardstown over hurdles was extraordinary."

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