The Jam Man delivered on favourite status to seal a thumping win in the Ladbrokes Troytown Chase and give trainer-cum-kitchen-fitter Ronan McNally his best-ever day, writes Tom Harle.
The versatile seven-year-old went to post as 5-2 favourite and cleared the first flight in last place in a field of 22, featuring an army of ten runners from Gordon Elliott’s stable.
But two-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winning jockey Paul Townend encouraged him to the front and wound up winning by nearly 20 lengths, confirming his chasing credentials in stunning style.
“For a half a second I thought it was going to end at the first, but after that he was like a cat,” said Townend.
“He thought he was well-treated, that he’d jump fences well enough that he could exploit the mark. He did, in fairness, and went for a good pop when he was doing for it.
“The way he did it there, you’d think he could hold his own at the highest level over fences and he’ll have to after that.
“He’s not overly big, we were able to pop away because we were on the bridle all the way. I’m not sure he’d be in love with huge fences as he goes up in class.”
There was more success for Townend in Grade 3 company in the For Auction Novice Hurdle as he coaxed 9-1 shot N’golo to victory in the For Auction Novice Hurdle.
That was a fine score for Willie Mullins and fellow super trainer Gordon Elliott got in on the act in the Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle with an assured season-opening win for Sire Du Berlais.
Cullentra won the race in 2017 and 2018 with Apple’s Jade and the JP McManus staying star reeled French Dynamite at the last to start the road to the Stayers Hurdle.
“It took him the whole length of the straight to get into gear, he wants three miles,” said Elliott
“You’re always hoping you’re going to win and we knew there was plenty of improvement in him. It was a nice start for him, so we’re very happy.”
Meanwhile, Easywork’s chasing debut was a triumph as he brought home the spoils in the EBF Beginners Chase over 2m1f.
Last year’s Ballymore Novice Hurdle second-placer - behind Envoi Allen - pushed past Rachael Blackmore’s Embittered to take a maiden win over fences
Elliott said: ”I thought it was a good performance. He said he hurdled the second a bit but was foot perfect after
“He's having a good blow and I think he'll be better when he steps up in trip - hopefully for the Drinmore, but I don't know if that will come too soon."
There was an upset in the Grade 2 Tote Fortria Chase as Pat Fahy’s Castlegrace Paddy had enough to beat Henry De Bromhead favourite A Plus Tard in the two-miler, with Bryan Cooper on board.
“He jumped well and Bryan came down to school him the other day and got him spot on,” said Fahy. “Everything worked out well and it’s great when it does.”