THERE were joyous scenes in the winners’ enclosure at Leopardstown yesterday as popular father-and-son Eric (trainer) and Conor (jockey) McNamara of Beechmount Stables in Rathkeale celebrated a famous, and thrilling, win in the featured €200,000 Paddy Power Chase.
The pair were responsible for the shock 33/1 winner in the Real Steel, owned by Tadhg Moynihan who bagged the £27,000 bargain on the trainer’s advice earlier in the year. McNamara and Moynihan met through a mutual friend, Sean Curran of Askeaton, at the Harvest Festival in Listowel.
Only two years ago, Real Steel had finished a respectable sixth in the Gold Cup.
“It was brilliant the way it worked out,” McNamara told the Racing Post. “A huge thanks to Tadhg. I picked him out at the sales and told him I didn’t want to go home without him. I bought him but Tadhg paid for him – and the horse paid for himself several times over today.
“He was well handicapped, if we could rekindle him we reckoned we could go places. He spent two years doing nothing in England, whatever went wrong there. We changed his routine when he came to us in Rathkeale and we were always very kind to him. We trained him like he was a real good horse.”
“Conor gave him a great ride and did everything right so it’s fantastic.”
McNamara’s win denied champion trainer Willie Mullins a clean sweep on the card. Mullins also had a winner at Limerick, bringing his haul for the day to a remarkable seven.
The McNamaras can be assured of a huge welcome home to Greenmount Park in Patrickswell this afternoon where they compete in a number of outings.
Meanwhile, Michael Hourigan was absent over the last few days from his local track. Feeling a little poorly, the sprightly septuagenarian was advised to rest at home for a few days, and thus missed the Christmas Festival for the first time since he was a young lad back in the 1950s. The legendary trainer is wished a quick return to full health.
Limerick continues this Wednesday and Thursday, and today’s feature events are The Tim Duggan Memorial Handicap Steeplechase and The Dawn Run Mares Steeplechase.