Donagh Meyler to pilot Heartbreak City in Leopardstown feature

JP McManus-owned Grade One stars Jezki and Carlingford Lough bound for Navan

Heartbreak City had Hong Kong's 'Magic Man' Joao Moreira on his back when touched off in November's Melbourne Cup but it is 3lb claimer Donagh Meyler who is set to try and get the red-hot favourite for Sunday's big Leopardstown prize home in front.

Meyler can boast a 100 per cent record on the Tony Martin-trained star having won on Heartbreak City in his last start over hurdles during Galway’s summer festival.

In his two flat starts since, Heartbreak City has been a revelation, landing York’s Ebor in style before coming up agonisingly short in the world’s richest handicap at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November.

On the strength of that he is a clear 5-2 favourite with the sponsors for Sunday’s €100,000 Handicap Hurdle where he will race off an official National Hunt mark of 125, just 7lbs higher than when he won at Galway in July.


Heartbreak City is a potential ‘blot’ on the handicap if translating his flat form back to flights and Martin is planning to employ Meyler’s claim as he tries to again win a race he memorably landed in 2003 when Xenophon landed a notable gamble.

"I wouldn't have thought the travelling back from Australia was a problem. He had a good break when he did come back in November. He had three weeks off and we've got plenty of work into him since," said Martin who could have up to three other runners in the race.

If Heartbreak City is a theoretical ‘good thing’ based on his flat form there is ample evidence of how translating ability to a different discipline isn’t always straightforward. Martin was also quoted after the Galway victory that he suspected the horse isn’t as good over hurdles as he is on the level.

Galway Plate

“He actually jumped around Galway well and we schooled him last week and he was very good,” the Co Meath trainer said on Tuesday.

“He’s very well in himself and if he and the others are motoring later in the week I would imagine they’ll take their chances.”

Meyler's biggest career success to date came when winning the Galway Plate on Lord Scoundrel for Gordon Elliott.

Martin’s three other hopefuls for Sunday are Tudor City, Gladiator King and Golden Spear who is an 8-1 shot although the betting is still dominated by Heartbreak City despite it being over a decade since the last favourite, the 5-1 shot Essex, won the race.

A total of 29 entries remain after Tuesday’s five-day stage, including the cross-channel hope, Clyne, while 22 are left in the Leopardstown Chase, nine of them trained by Gordon Elliott alone. One of those, Sunday’s Fairyhouse winner, Ball D’Arc is a 7-1 favourite with the sponsor.

In contrast, Navan’s most valuable pot on Saturday is the €21,000 Race Displays Event Signage Hurdle but it looks like hosting a pair of JP McManus’s genuine Grade One stars.

The former Champion Hurdle hero Jezki is set to make his first start in almost 20 months in the two-mile event while the dual-Irish Gold Cup hero Carlingford Lough is also among 11 left in the race as he builds up towards a hat-trick attempt at Leopardstown next month.

Willie Mullins has left the enigmatic Renneti in the race and while the champion trainer's Saturday focus will be principally on Un De Sceaux in Ascot's Grade One Clarence House Chase he also has the option of running Whiteout in the Grade Two OLBG Hurdle on the same card.

Mullins has also left Ivan Grozny in the Grade Two Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock on the same day.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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