She got knocked down at Cheltenham but got up again
Jane Mangan’s Grade One winner makes up for Oscar Delta misfortune
Jane Mangan with winning trainer Dermot Weld celebrates her victory in Galway last year. Photograph: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan
‘What dreams are made of,’ Jane Mangan tweeted after her first Grade One winner last month at Punchestown, the 19-year-old from Conna, Co Cork, riding The Liquidator to victory in the Champion Bumper.
It was her second winner of the meeting too, having triumphed the day before on Very Wood.
I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again should really be her theme tune, the jockey having dusted herself down after enduring that bizarre misfortune at Cheltenham in March when she seemed set for victory on Oscar Delta, trained by her father Jimmy, having cleared the final fence in the Foxhunter Chase.
And then, having expertly guided Oscar Delta through the course, the horse swerved to the left as it was closing in on the winning post, seemingly befuddled by where a groundsman had tied a tape, unseated Mangan, and that was the end of her Cheltenham-winning dream.
“It felt like I was in a Disney film, when I hit the ground I thought I was dreaming,” she said of the experience. “He jinked to the left, thinking he had to go round for another circuit.”
The Devon Loch comparisons were inevitable enough, Mangan receiving almost as much sympathy as Dick Francis did back in 1956, although both she and her father concluded much the same as Devon Loch’s owner, the Queen Mother, did back then: “Oh, that’s racing.”
Her Punchestown Grade One success was, then, proof she didn’t let the experience get the better of her.
“Jane gave him a fantastic ride,” said trainer Martin Pipe.
No more than her fellow leading female jockeys, Nina Carberry, our 2011 Sportswoman of the Year, and Katie Walsh, Mangan came by her love of horse racing honestly, although her memories of her father’s 2003 English Grand National success with Monty’s Pass are limited enough, seeing as she was only nine at the time.
She was, she said, “shipped off” to her grandparents on the day, “I knew it was a bit bigger than your average race, but I didn’t have a clue how big a deal it was.”
Last July, she became the first female jockey to win the Carlton Hotel Handicap at the Galway Races, a month later creating another “female first” when she won the amateurs’ Derby at Ballybrit – just 18 months after she had made her debut on one of her father’s horses at Aghabullogue.
Her potential, then, is considerable. And she’s the Conna “Gathering Queen” too, her village crowning her with the honour ahead of their August festival parade, which she will lead.
Even that honour, though, might pale next to her her first Grade One winner. She got knocked down, but she got up again. What dreams are made of.