JP McManus bids for Cheltenham Festival glory

Racing: All eyes on the big meeting

Aine Fitzgerald


Aine Fitzgerald

JP McManus bids for Cheltenham Festival glory

Tony McCoy and JP McManus with Synchronised in 2012 Picture: Sportsfile

LIMERICK racehorse owner JP McManus says he will have his “fingers crossed” over the next four days as his horses and jockeys go in search of glory at the famous Cheltenham Festival.

All eyes will be on McManus duo Yanworth and Buveur D’Air this Tuesday afternoon when they head a 12-strong field in the Stan James Champion Hurdle which will go to post at 3.30pm.

“A lot of our horses have had a pretty good preparation this year which is important. We have a few decent chances there so I have my fingers crossed,” Mr McManus told the Limerick Leader before heading to the Cotswolds.

Limerick people will also be taking a keen interest in the 4.50 race, the JT McNamara National Hunt Chase which will be run in honour of the late Croom jockey.

The four-mile contest for novice chasers is a prized race for amateur jockeys. JT’s wife Caroline is expected to attend the race.

JT McNamara died at the age of 41 on July 26 last year. McNamara partnered more than 700 winners under Rules and in point-to-points during his long career and was especially at home at Cheltenham and The Festival.

He enjoyed many of his big-race successes in the colours of top owner JP McManus, including riding Rith Dubh to victory in the 2002 National Hunt Chase and partnering Spot Thedifference in the 2005 Cross Country Chase.

McNamara also wore the McManus silks on Drombeag when they were successful in the 2007 Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham. His fourth victory at The Festival came on Teaforthree in the 2012 National Hunt Chase.

His career as a leading amateur rider ended following a fall while riding Galaxy Rock in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase for amateurs in 2013, which left him paralysed.

Caroline McNamara commented: “We are humbled and overwhelmed by the continued support we receive from everyone.

“The race being run in his name at The Festival is a huge honour.”