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
Alan Bennett has criticised the “repellent” reality shows which dominate our screens
tvBut he does like Stewart Lee
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
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

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits