I’m A Game Changer secured his first win over fences in style as he lifted the Grade Three Pierce Molony Memorial Novice Chase at Thurles.
Andrew McNamara’s nine-year-old had been placed in seven of his 11 previous chase outings, including in graded company, but had yet to get his head in front.
However, he righted that statistic with a strong staying performance in the two-mile-two-furlong contest.
I’m A Game Changer travelled well throughout for Darragh O’Keeffe, making smooth progress to assume the lead approaching the last, and he galloped all the way to the line to beat Whatsnotoknow by a cosy eight lengths.
McNamara said: “I thought turning in he might run into a place, but Darragh said he was fierce confident and won well. We had been riding him that way in good races to try to pick up a few quid – and while he has been doing that well, today’s race a slightly lesser race than the ones he had been running in.
“He has had a few issues but is on the right path at the moment, and hopefully he will stay going that way. We had thought about tipping away in these races and leaving him as a novice again for next season, but we’re not too upset that plan has gone out the window.
“He’ll keep going for the summer, and there are loads of races for him.”
McNamara was particularly pleased to land the race which remembers Molony, the former manager and owner of the track.
He added: “We are good family friends of the Molonys as well, and I’d have known Pierce well, so am delighted to win their race.
“His nine-member syndicate are based all over Ireland, and there is another one in Australia. I’s their first horse, and they’ll be thrilled.”
O’Keeffe went on to notch a double aboard Getaday (9-2) in the following Duggan Veterinary 4cyte For Horses Handicap Chase.
Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning rider Jack Kennedy kept the bandwagon rolling with victory aboard Commander Of Fleet (15-8) in the See You In October Hurdle.
A Grade One victor back in 2019 and second in that year’s Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, Commander Of Fleet missed an entire season through injury and failed to sparkle on his first two starts before coming good here.
Kennedy said: “This is a horse with loads of ability and it is nice for him to win that.”
Rachael Blackmore, who was crowned top rider at Cheltenham, also struck Thurles gold with Myth Buster (13-8) in the Horse & Jockey Beginners Chase.