Thrills and spills for local jockeys in Cheltenham
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There were thrills and spills, triumph and heartbreak for area jockeys in Cheltenham last week. Promising young Conna jockey Jane Mangan’s tumble from her horse Oscar Delta when she had the winning post in sight in the Foxhunter’s Chase, was a moment of pure heartbreak for the 19-year-old, but in turn allowed her near neighbour Colman Sweeney from Castlelyons to sail past to ride his mount Salsify to victory for the second year in a row. The horse was 2-1 favourite to win.
Colman won the same race at the Cheltenham festival on the same horse, Salsify, last year. The horse is owned by his mother and trained by his father Rodger. Colman was a top rated amateur in Ireland and the UK, but took a break from the sport after a fall in Tipperary in 2010. He only returned to riding early last year – last week’s race was his third Foxhunters win.
Jane Mangan is quickly rising up through the ranks in Ireland and is considered a talented jockey. Before her unfortunate fall on Friday she’d given Oscar Delta a faultless ride to put them in a two-length lead.
Colman said afterwards that he felt for Jane. Explaining that she lives locally and that he rides against her all the time, he remarked “I had all the luck and she had none.” He was of the opinion that Jane would have won if she hadn’t had the tumble.
There was more local interest in the form of Fermoy native Davy Condon. He took the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle with Flaxen Flare in a four and a half length win.
Then there was Fermoy man James Fenton who got to realise the dream of a lifetime, of riding in Cheltenham on Thursday last. James raised money for cancer research in the charity race. He said afterwards that it was “one of the best days of my life.” (See report elsewhere)
The thoughts of all four riders though were with J.T. McNamara who fractured two vertebrae in his neck in a fall on Thursday last. The incident cast a shadow over this year’s festival and was on the minds of all who attended. Jane Mangan, after her fall, said, philosophically, “it could be so much worse – we’re all in bits about J.T.”
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