‘Whacker returns to Cheltenham

Tom Rudd, Limerick Racecourse General Manager, Liam Burke, Cork Jockey / trainer and Joe Cleary, Sales and Marketing Director Mr. Binman, Festival sponsor. Photo: Liam Burke/Press 22

The Real Whacker – part-owned by Rathkeale hotelier Davy Mann – is entered in Saturday’s Cheltenham Gold Cup Handicap Chase (2.20pm, winners’ prize £90,000), along with next month’s Kempton King George VI Chase.

In March, the Pat Neville (formerly of Ballysteen) trained runner won a thrilling Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at Prestbury Park.

To win at the weekend, The Real Whacker is at odds of around 8/1.

Unbeaten in three starts over fences at the track, the seven-year-old will have top weight of 12stone for the 2m4f outing.

Sam Twiston-Davies will take the mount.

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Neville told the Racing Post: “He’s in great form and we’re looking forward to the race. He’s won at Cheltenham over two and a half miles around there before. It’s his first run of the season so if he finishes in the first four or five we’ll be happy. We have a serious horse, we don’t have to run him Saturday to know that, but there aren’t a major amount of races to start him off in.”

The Real Whacker is a best-priced 20/1 for the Gold Cup next March.

Here at home, Ballingarry jockey Philip Byrnes and owner/trainer Edward Cawley broke the Gordon Elliott stranglehold at Down Royal on Friday with their success with Dont Go Yet (18/1) in the two-mile handicap chase.

Elliott won the remaining six races on the card but his Irish Blaze could only look on from third place as Dont Go Yet, in Cawley’s own colours, got the better of the Ross O’Sullivan-trained Bythesametoken by half a length.

On the same evening, a runner-up earlier in the evening with Celtic Revival, Edward Lynam was on the mark with another of his stable’s fine servants, Punk Poet, in the eight-furlong handicap at Dundalk on Friday evening. The Chris Hayes of Shanagolden-ridden 6/1 shot led in the early stages of the race and again from the two-furlong marker to beat the Eric McNamara (Rathkeale)-trained 9/4 chance Brains by half a length to record his eighth career success.

Athea trainer Eoin McCarthy won the concluding bumper at Down Royal on Saturday with the Johnny Barry-ridden Big Dee. Owned by Seán Maguire, the 15/2 chance skipped a few lengths clear early inside the final furlong and had plenty in hand as he beat Gordon Elliott’s 4/5 favourite Cleatus Poolaw by four lengths, a rare reversal for Elliott who won 11 of the 14 races at the track’s big two-day meeting.

Off track, Wesley Joyce of Moyross is among the nominees (Flat Achievement Category) for the 2023 Horse Racing Ireland Awards, which will be presented in Dublin next month.

Meanwhile, Limerick will stage an attractive National Hunt card on Tuesday next.