Riverside City claims Troytown Chase glory at Navan
Young Jack Kennedy lands notable treble while Douvan romps to chase debut victory
Ruby Walsh riding Vautour clear from the last to win The Stella Artois 1965 Steeple Chase from Ptit Zig at Ascot. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty
If first impressions really do count then ante-post odds as short as 5-4 about Douvan winning the Arkle at Cheltenham next March mightn’t be ridiculously short given his convincing first sight of racecourse fences at Navan.
However the impression made by Jack Kennedy in securing a first big-race success in the € 100,000 Troytown Chase – part of a remarkable 147-1 three-timer on the day for the 16-year-old jockey – indicates the odds on the young Kerry rider being another star of the future could be even shorter still.
Highly regarded by those in the know beforehand, the former pony racing champion burst to the forefront with a stunning afternoon which saw him add to Riverside City’s Troytown victory with wins on another couple of Gordon Elliott-trained runners, Baroque Style and Prince Of Scars.
Kennedy had had a handful of rides over fences before the Troytown but his own impressions of a first success over the bigger obstacles will be charmed since Riverside City emerged best in an incident -packed race.
Just five finished a race in which Mullaghanoe River sustained fatal injuries in a fall at the eighth – and the fancied Empire Of Dirt exited at the third last – but Gordon Elliott’s two runners led them home with Riverside City beating Georges Conn.
“I was lucky. There were a few near misses. I was behind some of those that came down but was lucky enough to get around them,” said Kennedy who rode seven winners last week over hurdles, fences and on the flat.
Earlier Baroque Style has landed a gamble but Kennedy’s skill, and invaluable 5lb claim, also later helped Prince Of Scars overcome topweight in another handicap hurdle.
Significantly the latter is owned by Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown Stud and Riverside City carries JP McManus colours, links with jump racing’s top two owners that can hardly hurt Kennedy’s future prospects.
If Riverside City was a typical staying chase slog, and Baroque Style pretty straightforward, there was an unmistakable skill in how the teenager guided Prince Of Scars to success. The topweight’s head carriage was noticeably high but he still beat Russian Bill by a nose. “It doesn’t help but although his head was high, he still tries hard,” said the jockey. “He got there very easy and kept pulling out more.”
Kennedy is based with Elliott who said: “It was a first winner over fences for Jack and he did everything right today. I’m delighted for him.”
Douvan traced the hoof prints of his illustrious stable companion Vautour for much of his novice hurdle career and did the same at Navan, winning the same Beginners Chase as Vautour, just as impressively too, and at the same 2-11 SP.
The one slight hiccup came at the last when the horse acclaimed by champion trainer Willie Mullins as being as good as anything he’s ever put through his hands dived at the obstacle but even that blip contained a positive.
“It’s not as if he made a mistake through being awkward. He stood too far off it but he knew what he had to do,” said Mullins. “He’ll go now for the Racing Post Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.”
That St Stephen’s Day highlight famously cost Vautour his unbeaten record when beaten at 1-4 a year ago. But as chase debuts go it was hard to pick fault with Douvan’s.
“He jumped well up to the last but that was because he heard the other horse (Rogue Trader) coming to him and got revved up. He gave me a great feel, loads of power,” said Ruby Walsh.
Vautour didn’t impress everyone with his Ascot victory on Saturday but Mullins believes he will improve. “I was delighted to win. I thought he did it well against race-fit horses and there should be a lot left to improve on,” the trainer said.
After that Ascot success, and a Gowran hat-trick on Saturday, the good form of Mullins’s team in general continued to Navan where Augusta Kate was also an odds-on winner in the Listed Mares Bumper.
Owned by a syndicate that includes footballer Alan Shearer, golfer Lee Westwood and TV personalities, Ant & Dec, plus her breeder, Graham Wylie, Augusta Kate ran out an easy winner under Patrick Mullins.
Falcon Crest earned 20-1 quotes for Cheltenham’s Neptune in March after running out a smooth winner of the Grade Two Monksfield Novice Hurdle under Barry Geraghty.