Mighty Man impresses at Hereford
Mighty Man gave every encouragement he could be just as good over fences as he was a hurdler when taking Richard Johnson to within one of the 2,000 career winner mark in the Bet Totepool On Today's Irish Racing Novices' Chase at Hereford yesterday.
Although he only had two opponents in the three-and-a-quarter-mile contest, the 2006 and 2007 Liverpool Hurdle winner could hardly have been more impressive in an enthusiastic round of fast and safe jumping to score by nine lengths from Forest Pennant.
The 4-6 chance put in a particularly extravagant leap at the fourth fence that caused him to peck on landing, but Johnson quickly had him back on an even keel and for the remainder of the race it was plain sailing for Henry Daly's nine-year-old.
It was the latest chapter in a remarkable story because Mighty Man sustained injuries so severe at Punchestown when attempting to follow up his 2007 Aintree triumph that without modern veterinary methods he would have been finished as a racehorse.
No wonder Daly was clearly ecstatic after greeting his charge, with the Ludlow trainer observing: “He was always a very good jumper of a hurdle and he's taken to fences just as well. He cleared one of the early ones by three or four feet.
“My only worry was the ground because he doesn't like it soft. He wants genuine good ground and we got away with it today.
“I would think we'll run him in another novice chase and then make a plan.
“I really don't know where he'll go, but he'll probably end up back in the Liverpool Hurdle.”
Reflecting on the trials and tribulations the talented Mighty Man has endured, Daly added: “What happened to him in Ireland was life-threatening and you have to hand it to his owners Nicky and Joss Hanbury who have done an enormous amount of work at their place in Leicestershire, where he summers every year.
“He ruptured the tendon and had stem cell therapy and so far it's proved entirely successful, but it wouldn't have been possible 10 years ago.”
Proud to have taken Johnson so close to his personal milestone, Daly went on: “It's an amazing achievement by Richard and I am in awe of him. I feel sorry for him in that he's in a situation where a fellow called Tony McCoy has been around at the same time.”
Earlier Johnson initiated a double with a smooth triumph on the Philip Hobbs-trained Wishfull Thinking in the toteexacta Maiden Hurdle.
McCoy got his name on the scoresheet when Rapid Increase, trained by Jonjo O'Neill, grabbed Sir Winston in the totepool Handicap Chase.
Ruby Walsh rode 7-2 favourite Poquelin to success in Saturday’s big race, the Boylesports.com Gold Cup at Cheltenham.