Jody McGarvey clinches Grade One double with victory on Janidil

Jody McGarvey enjoyed a dream Easter Sunday as he completed a Grade One double aboard Janidil in the Underwriting Exchange Gold Cup Novice Chase at Fairyhouse.

Having earlier struck aboard Skyace in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final, McGarvey teamed up with Janidil, the outsider of three runners for Willie Mullins in the two-and-a-half-mile contest.

However, Janidil proved by far the best as a 12-1 shot, leading home his stablemates in a clean sweep for the Closutton handler.

Jody McGarvey celebrates after his Grade One double
Jody McGarvey celebrates after his Grade One double (Niall Carson/PA)

Asterion Forlonge was partnered by Patrick Mullins after intended rider Paul Townend suffered a fall earlier on the card, and he was prominent throughout, racing on the heels of pacesetting Conflated with main market rival Andy Dufresne alongside.

The writing was on the wall for that runner some way out though, and it looked as though Asterion Forlonge was going to triumph as he hit the front with three to jump.

However, he found little for pressure approaching the penultimate obstacle, while Janidil was staying on for McGarvey, taking it up after jumping that fence and fairly sprinting home by four and a quarter lengths from the fast-finishing Franco De Port. Asterion Forlonge plugged on for third.

“He took a heavy fall the last day, but he seems to have learned a lot from it,” said McGarvey.

“He has all the scope in the world, but when he gets in he wants a bit of help.

“I had a good chat with Mark Walsh before and in fairness it paid off. He never missed a beat.

“I was jumping up on their heels everywhere and even turning in I was always happy.

“I jumped two out that well, and I was going well, and I said I’d stay going well. Lucky enough he put it to bed there.

“He never really stays straight that horse (Asterion Forlonge). I was trying to keep away from him. I switched in, and I ended up having to switch out again, but when I jumped past him at the second last, it was over and done with then.

“It’s absolutely unbelievable. Week in and week out when you’re working hard you want to be at these meetings and to ride in these races.

“To go and win two Grade Ones in a day – I’ve only ever ridden one Grade One (winner) in my whole career – and now I’m after riding two in one day, it’s unbelievable.

“Big thanks to Frank (Berry, racing manager) and JP (McManus, owner) for letting me step in to have these rides, I’m just very very grateful. I’m just happy to be here.

“They (opportunities) don’t come along too often and you have to take them with both hands. You don’t know where the next one is going to come from. I’ll make the most of this and keep kicking onward and upwards for the next day.”

McGarvey is looking forward to partnering the Philip Hobbs-trained Jerrysback for McManus in the BoyleSports Irish Grand National on Monday.

“I ride Jerrysback for Philip Hobbs in the National. He looks like he’ll really relish the trip and he has loads of experience,” he said.

“I just hope the ground doesn’t dry out too much, but other than that I’m looking forward to riding him.”

Willie Mullins celebrates with the trophy after Janidil's victory
Willie Mullins celebrates with the trophy after Janidil’s victory (Niall Carson/PA)

Mullins said: “I felt he deserved his chance to come here as he didn’t go to Cheltenham, but I thought it would be tough for him with the horses he was up against.

“He likes this track and won a big handicap hurdle here.

“It’s great for Jody to ride a Grade One double and I’m delighted for all connections.

“He’s a horse we always thought a bit of, but has disappointed a bit on his last few runs. Jody felt that when he got him jumping today, he was in his comfort zone from after halfway.

“I’d be keen to go to Punchestown, although I don’t think we’ll be going for the novice handicap with him!”

Mullins felt Asterion Forlonge might not have enjoyed racing so prominently.

He added: “Asterion Forlonge’s jumping is improving, but I was disappointed that he cut out so tamely. He cut out a lot of the running and maybe we made too much use of him.”

Skyace hits Grade One heights at Fairyhouse

Bargain-buy Skyace claimed Grade One glory in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final at Fairyhouse.

Despite placing in three bumpers for Willie Mullins, the six-year-old changed hands for just £600 in November 2019 and has proved an extremely shrewd acquisition by trainer Shark Hanlon.

Following wins at Grade Three and Listed level, the six-year-old finished fourth in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last month – and was a 4-1 joint-favourite for her latest big-race assignment.

Skyace travelled strongly on the heels of the leaders for much of the way, but after taking over the lead early in the home straight, she looked at the mercy of the strong-travelling Gauloise between the final two flights.

However, Jody McGarvey’s mount refused to bend and managed to hold off the Mullins-trained runner by half a length.

Hanlon, saddling the first Grade One winner of his career, said: “It’s great – she’s as tough as nails.

“She came home from Cheltenham and I said she was better coming out of it than she was before she went.

“I was afraid of the mares that hadn’t ran in Cheltenham more than the ones that had. I just felt she’s in great form, she’s tough and it’s great to have one like her.

“Everyone wants to have one Grade One winner and for me to have one is great.

“I think it’s great for racing as it shows you can get a small-priced filly and get a syndicate together and go and have fun.

“It’s great for the lads that own her. There’s a hundred of them sitting down today in Dubai for a meal – they did the same at Cheltenham – and there’ll be a few roars.

“I honestly thought she couldn’t get beat today.”

Skyace and Gauloise in action at Fairyhouse
Skyace and Gauloise in action at Fairyhouse (Niall Carson/PA)

McGarvey added: “It’s pure fairytale. Every time she kept winning, nobody could believe it and everybody kept underestimating her.

“Shark gave her a break at the right time and she’s thrived for it. She’s turned into a brilliant racemare.

“Even when she won in Punchestown (in December), I said after it ‘what’s she got to do for everyone to believe how good she is’?

“She’s come here today and she’s proved that she is that good.”