O'Leary aims for command in owners' war of attrition

 

One of the year's most spirited sporting rivalries may be settled today, though neither participant has ever broken sweat against the other in spikes or with bat, club, racket or ball. The most strenuous activity for a racehorse owner may be signing a cheque or walking to the winner's podium and J P McManus and Michael O'Leary have done plenty of both.

With less than three weeks of the jumping season to go and a wealthy businessman's pride at stake, the pair are running (if only on paper) neck-and-neck for the Irish owners' title. This afternoon at Fairyhouse they will collectively account for a third of the field for their country's richest contest, the Irish Grand National, with 10 entries between them.

McManus, whose top earner Synchronised took last month's Cheltenham Gold Cup, is already assured of a sixth championship in Britain. On his own turf, he has won 15 and had things pretty much, and perhaps boringly, his own way until O'Leary entered the arena and spiced things up. Two years ago, after five successive runner-up spots, the Ryanair boss topped the leaderboard for the first time, lost out narrowly last season and goes into this year's run for home a metaphorical nose behind.

Like McManus, whose famous green, white and gold colours are those of South Liberties GAA club in Limerick, O'Leary adopted sporting silks, maroon and white being the livery of his home county of Westmeath's football side. And both men swiftly acquired a taste for prestige success. McManus's first horse Cill Dara won the 1976 Irish Cesarewitch; O'Leary's first, Tuco, showed much promise before being killed in action at Fairyhouse 10 years ago today and his second was the Gold Cup winner War Of Attrition.

This afternoon, War Of Attrition's young brother Four Commanders (4.50) leads O'Leary's assault on the €250,000 (£206,000) National purse and, although nothing like as good as his celebrated brother, is a classy, progressive young stayer. The perceived best of McManus's quintet is Groody Hill, but a greater danger may be Allee Garde, who fell early in the Cheltenham four-miler in which Four Commanders ran a gallant third.

To take a title, which is decided on earnings, both quality and quantity are desirable and O'Leary is the only one in Ireland remotely able to take the game to McManus. But – happily – to find a champion does not always take limitless resources. The best horse seen at Fairyhouse's Easter meeting may prove to be the hugely exciting novice Flemenstar, who put his rivals, headed by O'Leary's four-timer seeking Rathlin, to the sword good and proper in yesterday's Grade One Power Gold Cup.

The seven-year-old, who cruised in by 11 lengths under Andrew Lynch to take his win streak to five, is one of just 14 horses in the Co Meath stable of extrovert septugenarian trainer Peter Casey. Four years ago, offered at auction by owner Stephen Curran, the gelding could not find a buyer at £6,500. He is now second favourite in some lists for next year's Cheltenham Gold Cup. "I can't believe we've got one this good," said Casey, "but he is, isn't he?"

Synchronised will be heading for Aintree on Saturday, confirmed yesterday as a starter in the Grand National and now a firm 7-1 favourite in most lists to give Tony McCoy, Jonjo O'Neill and McManus their second victory in three years. The best-backed horse over the weekend was the Willie Mullins-trained On His Own, now as short as 10-1 after becoming the choice of Ruby Walsh, who already has two Nationals on his CV.

Turf Account

Chris McGrath's Nap: Periphery (2.25 Yarmouth)

Not the highest-profile inmate of his powerful stable, but his maiden second last year reads extremely well and he still holds the Guineas entry.

Next Best: Mac's Power (3.20 Warwick)

Failed to win last season but consistent in top handicap company, including the narrowest of defeats first time out.

One to watch: King Of Jazz (Michael Bell) finished best of all when third over six furlongs at Doncaster on his first run for his present yard and should be noted when he steps back up to seven.

Where the money's going: Burton Point is now 4-1 from 6s with Paddy Power for Thursday's Betfair Bowl on the first day of the Grand National meeting.

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
News
i100
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
peopleBroadcaster has a new role bringing 'the big stories that matter' to US
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
Moves to regulate e-cigarettes and similar products as medicines come amid increasing evidence of their effectiveness
healthHuge anti-smoking campaign kicks off on Wednesday
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
Arts and Entertainment
Shia LaBeouf is one of Brad Pitt's favourite actors in the world ever, apparently
filmsAn 'eccentric' choice, certainly
Sport
footballBut the Newcastle United midfielder's news has 'left his mistress furious'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style