TEMPLE Guiting trainer Jonjo O’Neill’s stellar season continued with victory in the Boylesports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.
Shutthefrontdoor justified his position as 8-1 favourite to earn a first national success for jockey Barry Geraghty, who stood in for the suspended Tony McCoy.
O’Neill claimed the famous prize in 2007 with Butler’s Cabin and Shutthefrontdoor had to be driven hard on the run-in to catch Golden Wonder and triumph by three-quarters-of-a-length.
With the JP McManus-owned horse claiming the first prize of 141,000 Euros, he joined smart Cheltenham Festival winners More Of That, Taquin Du Seuil and Holywell in starring for the O’Neill yard this season.
The Cotswold trainer said: “He was in a great position all the way and jumped really well. Everything went right for him. He has done nothing wrong all season.
“He had a great run at Cheltenham and after that we thought this was the race for him. Plan ‘B’ didn’t work out too badly!
“He will have a good rest and is hopefully OK so we can look forward to next season. He needed a big leap at the last, got it and battled on really well.”
Geraghty declared: “I’ve never even got close (to winning before) so to win it is brilliant.”
McManus admitted: “It’s disappointing for AP that he’s not here today as I’m sure he would have picked this horse.”
Meanwhile, O’Neill enjoyed weekend joy at Haydock as jockey Maurice Linehan helped Carlton Jack (9-1) win the £3 Million totescoop6 Today Handicap Hurdle.
The seven-year-old gained a commanding lead after the final flight and refused to buckle under pressure from 5-1 favourite Heath Hunter, returning a length-and-three-quarters verdict.
Linehan said: “The good ground helped him a lot. He doesn’t want to be in front too soon. He stuck his head out and got me out of trouble.”
Naunton handler Nigel Twiston-Davies also won at Haydock through Blaklion (5-4 favourite).
The Towcester meet provided a double Cotswold success for Twiston-Davies with Belmount (5-4 favourite) and Typhon De Guye (4-1) trained by Martin Keighley in Condicote.
Polo Springs(6-1 second-favourite) triumphed again for Stow-on-the-Wold’s Graeme McPherson, this time at Newton Abbot.