The Real Whacker triumphs at Cheltenham 

Lead owner Davy Mann (second from right) celebrating The Real Whacker's success in Cheltenham with Trainer Paddy Neville, his nephew Brian Neville and former Limerick Footballer Danny Neville.

A COUNTY Limerick trainer fulfilled a boyhood dream by landing a feature event at the Cheltenham Racing Festival.

Paddy Neville, a native of Ballysteen who has been based in Yorkshire for the past couple of years, saddled 8/1 shot The Real Whacker to victory in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.

The winner, who was scoring for a third time on the trot around Prestbury Park, was given a tremendous ride by Sam Twiston-Davies.

He said: “It was a fantastic race, it’s always a privilege to be asked to ride in these races. Paddy Neville, all the way through, has been a great supporter. He said he was in wicked good nick and fair play, he was absolutely spot on.”

Neville added: “I was happy with the rhythm he was in and Sam kept him out for the better ground. We made that plan earlier on today and it worked.

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“He’s won three times now here – I don’t think I’ll run him anywhere else!”

The Real Whacker is owned by a syndicate headed-up by colourful Rathkeale hotelier Davy Mann: “Everybody knows the king of the crop is the big festival meeting which is today.

“I’ve been coming over here for 20 years and I never thought we were going to have a day like this. It is unreal. He jumped from fence to fence. Even though everyone says he is a brilliant jumper, my heart was in my mouth at every fence.”

Professional punter Paddy Merrigan, who worked as an assistant to Neville in the past, claimed the bookmakers were serious losers as The Real Whacker was initially a 50/1 chance at the start of the year. 

“The whole of Ireland has backed this horse for six months,” he stated.

“We have cleaned the bookies. I can assure you it was the biggest bet of my life.”

He added: “The bookies got educated today.”