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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
One of the 'princesses' in the video
videoYouTube reinstates sweary video after takedown for 'violating terms'
Sport
Mario Balotelli (left) trudges off at half-time last night, to be substituted during the interval
football
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Life and Style
Could you tell the difference between this and an organic alternative?
food + drink

Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'

Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

News
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday

Actress sees off speculation about her face in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
Arts and Entertainment
film

Marvel has released first teaser trailer week early after it leaked online

Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
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

Year 4 Teacher required for 2 terms

£21500 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

Accounts Assistant - Sales Ledger, Sage Line 50 - St Albans

£20000 - £22000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful and w...

EBD Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a quailed Teacher ...

Part Time SEN 1:1 Teacher

£40 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experience SEN Te...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?