Davy Condon ready to return to action in Navan following injury layoff

Navan Novice Hurdle looks a natural step up for classy bumper winner Shaneshill

Shaneshill is the star equine attraction on Navan’s Grade Two card but Davy Condon’s return to action will be the most welcome element to the pre-festive fixture, almost four months after a horrific fall left the jockey briefly fearing he was paralysed.

Condon fractured three vertebrae in a fall from Flaxen Flare at Cork and couldn’t feel anything from his neck down for ten minutes after the spill.

That was ultimately traced to having damaged a disc in his neck, something which initially appeared to rule out 29-year-old’s hopes of a Christmas return.

However the ability of National Hunt jockeys to bounce back from serious injury is highlighted again by Condon who is scheduled to ride two horses for Gordon Elliott at Navan.


“They were talking about being out for four to six months first because of a bulging disc which they were afraid might do some damage to the spine if I had another fall. They were going to operate but then I went to a neurologist who said the disc was bulging out rather than in and he felt it would settle down on its own in time,” said Condon.

“I’ve been riding out for the last two weeks at Gordon Elliott’s and Noel Meade’s and for the last six weeks I’ve been doing plenty jogging, swimming and cycling so I’m pretty fit. I can’t wait to get back. I don’t dwell on the past, or the last fall,” he added.

Condon's two rides include Time For A Pint in the €50,000 Tara Handicap Hurdle, a race in which Ruby Walsh teams up with Tony Martin for Dara Tango and Lite Duties aims for a hat-trick. Very testing going may not suit Lite Duties however and Pencilhimin is on a hat-trick of his own and is clearly progressing.

One opponent

Just five line up for the Navan Novice Hurdle which is three more than 2013 when Briar Hill beat just one opponent, a contributory factor to the race losing its top-flight status to the Slaney Hurdle at Naas after Christmas.

It does look a natural step up the ladder for Shaneshill who won easily on his jumping debut at Fairyhouse and brings Grade One status from his bumper days last season. No More Heroes looks a stout stayer but Shaneshill has a proven level of class.

Willie Mullins also looks to have the solution to the other black-type race, the Listed Future Champions Bumper, with the impressive Punchestown winner Bordini and pitches an intriguing contender into the Beginners Chase. Jarry d'Honneur won three hurdle races in a row in the Autumn of 2013 in France and prior to that ran twice over fences. He faces some point to point graduates on his Irish debut. While Bishops Road is a promising sort, Champagne James chased home Valseur Lido on his chasing debut and could relish travelling left-handed this time.

Lord Windermere’s Lexus Chase attempt will be Jim Culloty’s Christmas focus but the Co Cork-based trainer is targeting Tramore’s fixture with four runners and could go home with a healthy strike-rate.

Three novice runs have earned Heroic Approach a 94 rating in the handicap chase which looks a potentially exploitable mark while Davy Russell is also on board the Thurles runner-up Company Coming in the Beginners Chase.

Testing ground

Testing ground might not suit Culloty’s hope Marvellous Moment in the maiden hurdle and Speed Demon is a dangerous looking opponent.

Ruby Walsh has two rides at Tramore including Valyssa Monterg who was an expensive failure on her Irish debut but the triple French bumper winner is dropped in trip here.

Pat Shanahan flies the Irish flag at Cheltenham’s International meeting where King Of The Picts is a big outsider against The New One in the Grade Two feature.

Dolce N Karama is an interesting newcomer to jumping though in the Triumph Trial. The three year old was fourth in the 2013 Racing Post Trophy on the flat and Shanahan said: “There’s a lack of three year old hurdles in Ireland. There was one last week but he wasn’t quite ready. If he were to run a nice race he might run in the big Juvenile at Leopardstown.”

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column