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Kelly hopes to Decorate the town after big run from festival hope in Novice Hurdle

 

Draperstown trainer Noel Kelly heads to the Cheltenham festival in winning form with the Grade 1 Ballymore Novice Hurdle on Wednesday in his sights.

Décor Irlandais is his big festival hope and after an all weather winner at Dundalk on Friday, Kelly was upbeat about his top horse's prospects.

"He's just had a stretch of his legs and we'll be heading for the boat from Dublin tonight. He's in great form - a couple of wee things didn't work out at Catterick last time but everything has gone to plan in his preparation this time.

"If he was placed it would be brilliant but I'll settle for a good run."

The winner of four point to points and three races on the track will be partnered by Cabra- based amateur rider Noel Mc Parlan - three times Northern Region champion rider.

Kelly added: "Noel travelled down to Leopardstown to ride him in a gallop last week. It's great as he knows him and is a top rider - I know most runners will have professional jockeys on board but Noel knows him backwards and is his regular rider."

Armagh handler Ronan Mc Nally is another heading to Prestbury Park with his stable star The Jam Man which will run in Thursday's Grade 1 Stayers Hurdle worth £325,000.

Owned and trained by Nally, the horse has won nine races and in excess of £100,000 in prize money resulting in his rating climbing to 150 in Britain.

McNally said: "The plan was originally the Coral Cup but he's only small and would have had a lot of weight to carry.

"The World or Stayers Hurdle looks a better option but Paisley Park looks set for a repeat victory - he's rated 169, we're 150.

"They say never be frightened of one horse, however my horse is now in good form and working well.

Sean (Flanagan) will be aboard and rode him in a bit of work and gets on well with him. He's just back following a broken jaw, so I'm glad.

"(The Jam Man) has improved all season and deserves his chance.

"He's had some physio in recent days and I think I'll take the physio over to Cheltenham with me just to be sure.

"We'll travel over tomorrow and stay with a friend who has a gallop and a big forest to ride through, so he can chill out for a couple of days before going on to Cheltenham. He was a good fourth at Cheltenham on New Year's Day when hampered.

"I own him so I only have myself to answer to!

"There are plenty of other options later in the season including chasing but I'll be happy with a clear run and if you're not in you can't win."

The Jam Man will also be accompanied by his biggest fan and regular work rider Kian McNally, the nine year old son of the trainer who is already a regular figure on Irish racecourses.

Belfast Telegraph