Naas round-up: Thedevilscoachman awarded Grade Three prize

Sat 28 Jan 2023

Thedevilscoachman is awarded an eventful Grade Three opener at Naas

Thedevilscoachman was awarded victory in the stewards’ room following a dramatic conclusion to the Finlay Ford At Naas Novice Chase.

Five runners went to post for the Grade Three contest, with the Willie Mullins-trained Ramillies the 13-8 favourite to follow up a successful fencing debut at Thurles last month.

Amirite and Rachael Blackmore took the quintet along for much of the three-mile-one-furlong journey, with Ramillies always his nearest pursuer under Paul Townend.

With Cheltenham winner Chemical Energy weakening disappointingly, it turned into a three-way fight, with Amirite and Ramillies joined by Thedevilscoachman and Bryan Cooper halfway up the home straight.

The drama began after jumping the second fence from the finish, with Noel Meade’s Thedevilscoachman (100-30) seemingly having the door closed on him when going for a gap between the front pair.

Cooper angled his mount wide of his rivals to mount his challenge on the run-in and was was clawing back Ramillies all the way to the line, but the latter held on by a neck.

However, following a subsequent enquiry the stewards reversed the result.

Ramillies at Naas
Ramillies at Naas

Meade said: “I know I’m biased, but I think it was the right decision.

“What probably made the decision was when Paul jumped the second-last he came over in front of him. You could say why didn’t he go round him, but he never actually had a chance to go round him because once Paul blocked him up he had nowhere to go except to keep going straight.

“Rachael came out and Paul went in (at the last), but I think he was the best horse.”

Considering future plans, the trainer added: “I’ll have to talk to Frank (Berry) and JP (McManus) before I can say where he’s going to go because I don’t know. Frank is away on holidays with the boss.

“I do think wherever he goes he does need soft ground, that’s essential.

“I didn’t put him in the National Hunt Chase, I put him in the Brown Advisory. I think three miles is far enough for him.

“I think Cheltenham mightn’t be soft enough for him, if it was good ground there. We might even be thinking more of a handicap there, that might be an idea.”

Prior to the placings being amended, Mullins’ assistant David Casey said: “There was a bit of race-riding at the back of the second-last and I think Paul just held his position.

“He’s a grand horse and stays well. He seems to have put it together better over fences than he did over hurdles.

“He’s in the National Hunt Chase and to me he looks like a horse for that, but the trainer will make the decision.

“He did it well and Paul said he was happy all the way round.”

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