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McManus holds on to title

JP McManus held on to the title of champion owner in Ireland after a gripping duel with Gigginstown House Stud.

The curtain came down on the season at the Punchestown Festival, during which the familiar green and gold colours were carried to victory by Tony McCoy on the Tom Mullins-trained Alderwood in the Grade One Evening Herald Champion Novice Hurdle.

McManus could have been caught right up to the final day, but in the end he stayed in front of Gigginstown, who had two Grade One winners at the meeting with Sir Des Champs in the Growise Champion Novice Chase and Dedigout in the Cathal Ryan Memorial Champion Novice Hurdle.

Outlaw Pete was a final-day winner for McManus, who was landing his 16th title and recorded his biggest victory when Jonjo O'Neill's ill-fated Synchronised took the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown, ahead of his triumph in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Tragically, he suffered a fatal injury in the Grand National at Aintree.

McCoy, who rode Synchronised, was at Punchestown on the final day and received a bottle of champagne in recognition of his amazing achievement in being crowned champion jockey in the UK for the 17th time with the conclusion of the season at Sandown Park.

He paid tribute to Ireland's champion Davy Russell, saying: "It was a great performance from Davy. To be champion jockey you need a lot of luck, a lot of talent and to work for all the right people. He's competing in Ireland with some of the best jockeys we've ever seen."

Willie Mullins, who had 10 Punchestown Festival winners, romped away with the champion trainer title in Ireland for the fifth consecutive year and dominated the entire season.

His son Patrick, who won the Champion INH Flat Race at Punchestown on Cheltenham Bumper winner Champagne Fever, was crowned champion amateur for the fifth time.

The jockey said: "I'm obviously very lucky to ride for my father and the highlight of the year was to ride another Cheltenham winner. For Champagne Fever to then follow up at Punchestown was just beyond expectations. I've been very lucky, I get to ride some fantastic horses that end up in Grade Ones."

The conditional jockeys' title was another close-run thing, with Paddy Mangan, son of Grand National -winning trainer Jimmy, just holding off EJ O'Connell and Declan Bates.


From Belfast Telegraph