Trainer McNally surprised over second investigation into Dreal Deal’s improved form

‘I don’t know what they’re investigating. I’ve explained for clarity how the horses have improved’

Trainer Ronan McNally has expressed surprise at racing's regulator once again investigating the apparent improvement in form of Dreal Deal who won at Limerick on Saturday.

Dreal Deal, who landed a high-profile gamble over hurdles at Navan last month, successfully switched to the flat at the weekend and won a handicap at odds of 5-6 favourite off a mark of just 45.

The stewards subsequently enquired into Dreal Deal’s apparent improvement in form and handicapper, Mark Bird, stated the horse “showed improved form in the region of two stone on his previous flat run”.

The matter was referred to the chief executive of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board for further investigation.


That same step was taken after the horse’s win at Navan where he won after being backed at odds of 20-1 overnight into 6-4 favourite.

A stewards enquiry on that occasion included evidence from the jumps handicapper that Dreal Deal’s performance was an improvement “in excess of two stone” on his previous form.

Eight days prior to that, the stewards had referred on the apparent improvement in form of another McNally-trained runner, The Jam Man, after he finished runner-up in a race at Limerick.

On Saturday that horse won for Co Armagh-based McNally at York to complete a cross-channel double.

After Dreal Deal’s win at Navan, McNally told the stewards that his yard “had been under a cloud since November 2019 and aspergillus had been the diagnosed problem to explain the illness of all his horses. He felt that this condition accounted for their abysmal performances”.

On Sunday he again pointed to his horses recovery from the fungal infection as the reason for their improved form.

“I don’t know what they’re investigating. I’ve explained for clarity how the horses have improved. There’s no hiding that. It’s quite simple. I don’t know what the referrals are about. I told the truth and said what I said on the day so I don’t what the referrals are even about,” he said.

An IHRB spokesman declined to comment on the matter on Sunday.

McNally added: “My horses were sick, everyone knows this. All my horses have shown improvement. It is what it is. I’m just going to go and do what I’m doing and train a few winners. I’m happy what’s happening with my own horses and that’s all I can worry about.”

Dreal Deal has been declared for another handicap at Cork on Tuesday where he is due to carry a mandatory 6lb penalty.

Before that Monday's action is at Kilbeggan where Willie Mullins reverts to jumps action after his memorable Cesarewitch victory with Great White Shark at Newmarket on Saturday.

Dads Lad will try to go one better than his last start at Galway in the bumper but faces an interesting newcomer from Gordon Elliott’s team.

Dark Spark is out of the Grade One-winning mare Voler La Vedette .

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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