P.J. in the top ten

Tagh­mon jockey is an un­sung hero

Enniscorthy Guardian - - SPORT - BY PE­GA­SUS

I OF­TEN think P.J. McDon­ald from Monastery Av­enue, Tagh­mon, does not get the credit he de­serves from the rac­ing fra­ter­nity here in Ire­land, as his achieve­ments on the flat in Eng­land are quite re­mark­able.

Op­er­at­ing from his North York­shire base, he ended the calendar year with 120 win­ners, his sec­ond suc­ces­sive time to top the one hun­dred mark and just eight be­hind last year de­spite los­ing nearly two months to in­jury. He was ninth in the Rac­ing Post ta­ble for the calendar year.

His top ten plac­ing is put in per­spec­tive when you con­sider that 262 rid­ers had win­ners in Bri­tain last year, show­ing just how com­pet­i­tive the game is over there.

Among those be­hind him were Wil­liam Buick, Ryan Moore, Frankie Det­tori, Paul Hana­gan, Martin Har­ley, Jamie Spencer, An­drea Atzeni and a host of other well­known names.

He kept him­self very busy with nearly 900 rides and earned just over £1.5m Stg. in prize money. His con­sis­tency is il­lus­trated by his 112 sec­onds and 103 thirds.

Over the jumps, Tom O’Brien ended the old year with a win­ner at Taun­ton, scor­ing on Bel­tor (5/1) for Robert Stephens. He also be­gan the new year in im­pres­sive style at Sandown on Satur­day with an all-the-way win on Elixir De Nutz (3/1) in the €50k Grade 1 Tol­worth novices hur­dle for Colin Tizzard.

This brought him to 57 win­ners for the sea­son so far, al­ready four more than he got for the en­tire pre­vi­ous sea­son.

Daryl Ja­cob has been more se­lec­tive in his rides, work­ing mainly for his re­tained own­ers, Si­mon Mu­nir and Isaac Souede, but he has 36 win­ners since the sea­son be­gan in April and won seven Grade 1s and four Grade 2s in 2018.

He took the open­ing Uni­bet Ju­ve­nile Hur­dle at Sandown on Satur­day with the hot favourite, Tor­pillo (3/10), for Nigel Twis­ton-Davies, and fol­lowed up on Sun­day at Plump­ton with a win on French-trained Mas­ter Dino (11/10).

A bit of his­tory was made at Punchestown on Mon­day, De­cem­ber 31, the last Ir­ish card to be shown on the At The Races chan­nel. While it is too early to judge the new set-up on Rac­ing TV, I liked the ATR cover­age and re­gret its pass­ing.

This is es­pe­cially so be­cause the new chan­nel won’t be avail­able on the usual Sky Sports pack­age, and peo­ple will have to pay ex­tra now to see live Ir­ish rac­ing.

There was New Year’s Day rac­ing at Tramore and Fairy­house, and the only Wex­ford win­ner was Paul Nolan’s Crazy­heart (7/2) un­der Davy Rus­sell at Tramore. He also had a cou­ple of thirds, in­clud­ing Roney, rid­den by Ruby Walsh

At Fairy­house, Seán Flan­gan was sec­ond on Colin Bowe’s West­ern Vic­tory (4/1), beaten by the Wil­lie Mullins hot­shot, Sis­ter Sarah (4/7). He also had a cou­ple of thirds, in­clud­ing on Liz Doyle’s Cairn­hill (7/4jf).

At Cork on Satur­day it was good to see Seán O’Ke­effe back in ac­tion af­ter a rel­a­tively mi­nor in­jury. He was third in the open­ing novice hur­dle on Liz Doyle’s One First Cut (5/1).

Joseph O’Brien’s well-backed Fakir D’oudairies got in as a re­serve in the maiden hur­dle and was guided to vic­tory in a field of 22 by his first cousin, J.J. Slevin, ahead of a Wil­lie Mullins favourite, Fast Buck (9/4).

Flana­gan won the maiden hur­dle snugly enough on Noel Meade’s Gig­gin­stown charge, Eurobot (11/2), tak­ing ad­van­tage of a fall three out by the smooth trav­el­ling Mullins favourite, Clin­ton Hill (6/4).

Barry O’Neill went close in the con­clud­ing bumper on Henry De Brom­head’s Falco De Can­dale Aa (7/1). He was clear with a fur­long to go but was col­lared near the line by Noel Meade’s favourite, Be­hind the Cur­tain (11/4).

At Naas on Sun­day, Flana­gan had an­other very nice win­ner for Meade, with Va­li­dieu (10/3) tak­ing the maiden hur­dle by six and a half lengths.

Meade feels this one may be a po­ten­tial Grade 1 per­former.

Flana­gan’s 35 win­ners has him in fifth place in the rid­ers’ ta­ble de­spite los­ing two months af­ter an Au­gust fall at Tramore.

Paul Nolan’s horses are run­ning into good form and he went close to a dou­ble at Naas. Merie De­vie (5/2) won un­der Bryan Cooper and is owned by John Bren­nan.

He was left in front at the last when Rachael Black­more was un­seated un­der pres­sure on High School Days (5/4f), but Cooper felt he would have won any­way.

Ear­lier Nolan and Cooper had been foiled in the fi­nal yards when Quamino (9/1) was caught on the line by Mark Walsh on Joseph O’Brien’s Punches Cross (2/1f).

Tagh­mon jockey P.J. McDon­ald

Barry O’Neill from Kil­tealy.

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