Groody Hill caps great day for McManus


Racing:Groody Hill capped a red-letter day for owner JP McManus with a last-gasp victory in the Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan.

Ireland’s leading patron also struck with Down Under and Formidableopponent, as well as getting on the scoresheet at Wexford with Baby Whizz for a four-winner haul on the day.

But it was Groody Hill who earned the most plaudits with a thrilling success to complete a hat-trick after wins at Punchestown and Wexford.

The five-year-old had plenty to do at the last as Ad Idem took the measure of Cross Appeal, who made a bad mistake.

However, Alan Crowe conjured a great run out of Chris Roche’s charge to get up in the last strides, finishing to such effect that he won by half a length. Cross Appeal was three and a half lengths back in third with Some Target fourth.

Crowe, who has handed a one-day ban for his use of the whip, was winning back-to-back renewals of the Troytown having been successful 12 months ago on Jack The Bus.

Formidableopponent (11-8 favourite) staked his claim to be in McManus’s team for the Cheltenham Festival with a clear-cut three-and-a-quarter-length victory in the INH Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle.

The Francis Flood-trained Down Under (11-4 favourite) got the McManus machine rolling by taking the Dunderry Handicap Hurdle.

Mount Benbulben came with a late rattle to land the spoils in the Irish Form Book “Monksfield” Novice Hurdle.

Rebel Fitz held a handy lead and looked set for success in this Grade Two contest, but he had nothing left when Mount Benbulben (5-2) put in a strong challenge from the last.

Davy Condon brought Gordon Elliott’s charge with a powerful run to go on in the last 100 yards and score by a length and a quarter.

Following two falls earlier in the day, Ruby Walsh gave up his ride on Nearest The Pin, third to the impressive Flemenstar in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase.