Flanagan makes a quick return to action a month after breaking his jaw

JP McManus runner Castle Oliver bids for four in a row in Naas feature

Sean Flanagan: returns to action at Naas just a month after breaking his jaw in a fall at the venue. Photograph: Billy Keane/Inpho

Sean Flanagan: returns to action at Naas just a month after breaking his jaw in a fall at the venue. Photograph: Billy Keane/Inpho

 

A month after breaking his jaw in a fall at Naas, jockey Sean Flanagan returns to action at the track on Sunday.

 Flanagan fractured his jaw when Village Mystic crashed out in a hurdle race but has recovered in time for next week’s Cheltenham festival.

First of all though he teams up with Beacon Edge in a Listed hurdle on Sunday. It looks a contest well within the horse’s grasp given how only a final flight mistake looked to prevent him winning a Grade Three contest last time.

Flanagan had ridden a winner at the same fixture prior to his fall but David Mullins has yet to visit the winners’ enclosure since his return to action following a serious spinal fracture in October. He has two rides at Gowran’s fixture on Saturday although his best chance could come on Court Maid who sports first-time cheek-pieces in a handicap hurdle at Naas.

If it is very much a case of calm before the Cheltenham storm, Sunday’s fixture can still boast a Grade Three novice chase and the €100,000 Mansion Bet Leinster National.

Michael O’Leary and JP McManus each have five runners in the three mile contest where the latter’s Castle Oliver will try to win four in a row.

He is over two stone higher in the ratings compared to when his streak began but trainer Pádraig Roche believes a step up in trip will suit.

“It’s another big step forward for him but I’d be hopeful the extra half mile will bring about a bit more improvement again judging by the way he finished out his race the last day,” he said.

TG4 will broadcast a Cheltenham festival preview on Saturday night at 7.45 hosted by Denis Kirwan. It will be repeated the night before the festival starts on Monday at 7.30.

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