Tag Archive for: Patrick Neville

Neville eager to take Oaksey test with The Real Whacker

Patrick Neville is optimistic The Real Whacker can end his season on a high in the bet365 Oaksey Chase at Sandown on Saturday.

After rounding off an unbeaten novice campaign over fences with a thrilling Cheltenham Festival success over five-time Grade One winner Gerri Colombe, the current term has not gone entirely to plan for the North Yorkshire-based Irishman’s stable star.

The Real Whacker struck into himself when pulled up on his reappearance in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November and while he performed better when fourth in the King George and when filling the runner-up spot in the Cotswold Chase, he again failed to finish in the Gold Cup last month.

Neville feels the testing conditions at Prestbury Park were to blame for the eight-year-old’s below-par performance and he is confident he can bounce back when he steps down in trip and class for this weekend’s two-mile-six-furlong Grade Two.

Patrick Neville aboard The Real Whacker on the gallops at Cheltenham
Patrick Neville aboard The Real Whacker on the gallops at Cheltenham (David Davies/The Jockey Club)

“He’s in great form and the ground is good. It’s the first time I’ve seen good ground in a long time, so we’re looking forward to it,” said the trainer.

“He’s in good nick so hopefully he’ll get back on track. He came back from Cheltenham fine, the ground was heavy and he doesn’t act on that ground and that’s it. We kind of knew before we started, but we just took a chance with it being the Gold Cup.

“He ran well only he was caught out by the ground, when he came off the bridle that was it but we’ll draw a line through that now and look forward to Saturday.

“He’s good and fresh and well and he definitely acts on nice ground. I wouldn’t worry about the trip, I wouldn’t worry about anything – the ground is the key thing.”



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Cotswold second Whacker firmly on course for Festival date

Patrick Neville is not giving up his Gold Cup dream with The Real Whacker after seeing his stable star fill the runner-up spot in Saturday’s Cotswold Chase.

The eight-year-old won his first three starts over fences at Cheltenham last season, completing his hat-trick with a rousing victory over Gerri Colombe in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.

He made an inauspicious start to the current campaign after pulling up in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, but did return with a minor injury, and a fourth-placed finish in the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day was a step in the right direction.

Neville was hoping a return to Cheltenham might result in a first victory of the campaign over the weekend and while he dropped to the rear of the field on the approach the final fence, there was much to like about the way he stayed on up the hill to finish best of the rest behind Capodanno.

“He’s come back in good form, he’s fresh and well,” said the North Yorkshire-based Irishman.

“I said at the start of the season we were aiming for one day – the Gold Cup has been the plan all the time and it still is.

“I was reading somewhere that he put two bad runs behind him, but on his first run he struck into himself, so there was an excuse for that, and I thought the King George run was a very good run.

“We took a lot out of his run on Saturday. Bypassing the second-last fence didn’t help us and he got a little bit outpaced turning in, but it was his first time in a proper battle, which he realised, and I liked the way he stayed on from the last.”

The Real Whacker and Patrick Neville last week
The Real Whacker and Patrick Neville (Ashley Iveson/PA)

The Real Whacker is a best priced 66-1 for the Gold Cup with bet365, who make last year’s winner Galopin Des Champs the evens favourite and his old rival Fastorslow second in the market at 9-2.

Neville added: “Of course you’d have big respect for Galopin, but after that it’s wide open.

“You can’t beat course form, we know our horse loves the track and with a clear run now, we’re happy to take him on, no problem.

“He comes alive for the spring – he’s a spring horse and not a winter horse. We’d be hoping for a bit nicer ground as the ground on Saturday was dead and on better ground he should improve again.

“I think with that good run under his belt, with that bit more experience, I think he can improve and we’re happy with where we are.”



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The Real Whacker puts Gold Cup hopes on the line at Cheltenham

Patrick Neville is optimistic The Real Whacker can re-establish his Gold Cup claims in the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday.

The eight-year-old won each of his three starts over fences at Prestbury Park last season, completing his hat-trick with a thrilling victory over Gerri Colombe in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Festival in March.

As a result The Real Whacker headed into the new campaign as one of Britain’s leading Gold Cup contenders – and while he has not troubled the judge in two starts so far this term, Neville believes he can show his true worth this weekend.

“He’s all ready to go and we’re looking forward to it,” he said.

“We’ve had a great run with him. He came out of the King George fresh and well and we’re very happy.

“I’m hoping the ground dries out a little bit, but it is what it is.”

The Real Whacker was pulled up on his reappearance in Cheltenham’s Paddy Power Gold Cup in November before making late gains to finish fourth in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Neville’s stable star is now as big as 66-1 for the blue riband, but the North Yorkshire-based Irishman is not giving up on his Gold Cup dream.

The Real Whacker and Patrick Neville last week
The Real Whacker and Patrick Neville (Ashley Iveson/PA)

He added: “I wouldn’t take any notice of his first run (of the season), it was only a starting point for him really. It probably wasn’t the proper race to run him in, but we had to start somewhere.

“We were happy enough with the run in the King George and happy with how he came out of the race, so we’re hoping for a big run on Saturday.

“He is better on better ground, but we couldn’t be happier with him and he’d want to be showing up well there on Saturday and giving a good account of himself (to go for the Gold Cup). I think he will.

“We’ve had a clear run with him, so I’d be happy there’s no ifs or buts with him.”

The Real Whacker’s rivals include the Venetia Williams-trained Betfair Chase hero Royale Pagaille, rerouted here following the abandonment of last week’s Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock, while star novice Stay Away Fay bids to give trainer Paul Nicholls a sixth Cotswold Chase success.

Stay Away Fay on his way to victory at Sandown
Stay Away Fay on his way to victory at Sandown (John Walton/PA)

The latter has plenty to find on ratings following just two chase starts so far, but the Ditcheat handler is rarely averse to a challenge.

He told Betfair: “He won the Albert Bartlett with a brilliant performance at this track in March and I’ve been thrilled with his progress as a chaser this season.

“He has taken really well to fences, winning both times and is a strong stayer who will gallop all day.

“He is schooling smartly, looks fab and worked great on Thursday morning, but I appreciate that he is in at in the deep end in this and has it all to do. I’d rather run him this weekend than wait three weeks for Ascot (Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase), which is a bit close to Cheltenham.”

Last year’s winner Ahoy Senor is back to defend his crown, but has a bit to prove having been pulled up on each of his two starts so far this term.

Jamie Snowden’s Datsalrightgino, on the other hand, lines up off the back of a career-best performance when landing last month’s Coral Gold Cup at Newbury under an inspired Gavin Sheehan.

“We thought we would try going up in trip in a big race like the Coral Gold Cup and thankfully it all paid off,” said Snowden.

“This was a race that I earmarked after Newbury. He has got to step forward again coming out of handicap company as he won the Coral Gold Cup off 148, so this is a different kettle of fish.

“Off a mark of 159, it does make life tough in handicaps. If we are not up to Gold Cup class then we will probably have to look at decent handicaps, which could include the Grand National.”

Capodanno in action at Punchestown
Capodanno in action at Punchestown (Niall Carson/PA)

The Willie Mullins-trained Capodanno, last seen finishing a distant third behind Gold Cup-winning stablemate Galopin Des Champs in Leopardstown’s Savills Chase, completes the field.

Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: “It’s a very competitive race, but Capodanno ran a cracker at Christmas behind Galopin Des Champs.

“Last season he just got held up a few times, but he was a Grade One novice chaser and we thought rather than banging heads with Galopin Des Champs again (in next weekend’s Irish Gold Cup) and maybe Fastorslow, this race might be a cleverer choice.”



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The Real Whacker set for Cotswold Chase spin

Patrick Neville is eyeing a return to Cheltenham for the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase with The Real Whacker following his creditable performance in the King George on Boxing Day.

The seven-year-old won each of his first three starts over fences last season, all at Cheltenham, including a narrow Festival success over Gerri Colombe in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.

Having begun the new season as a genuine Cheltenham Gold Cup contender, The Real Whacker was pulled up on his reappearance in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Prestbury Park in November, but was subsequently found to have suffered a minor injury.

The Real Whacker and Patrick Neville last week
The Real Whacker and Patrick Neville (Ashley Iveson/PA)

Neville nevertheless decided to give his stable star a chance to prove himself at the highest level in the King George VI Chase – and while he never threatened to land a telling blow in the hands of Sam Twiston-Davies, he was doing his best work at the end and was not disgraced in finishing fourth.

In the immediate aftermath, the North Yorkshire-based trainer suggested The Real Whacker could head straight to the Gold Cup, but is now eyeing a final prep run back on his favourite track.

“He’s in great form and came out of it well. We didn’t have much luck in the race – things didn’t work out for us and we didn’t get a great break, but he jumped around and stayed on at the end,” said Neville.

“They went quick, but we didn’t get the break we wanted. It was just one of those things, but I liked the way he finished the race and he was only beaten 10 lengths in the end.”

Neville believes there is more improvement to come from The Real Whacker, adding: “It was his first run in Grade One open company and he’ll probably come on for it.

“I’m going to run him in the Cotswold Chase at the end of January. I just looked at the race and thought we’d give him one more run before the Gold Cup, as the experience will help him.”

The trainer did enjoy a notable victory on the King George undercard, with Mahons Glory dominating his rivals in the concluding handicap hurdle.

An ambitious tilt at the Stayers’ Hurdle was subsequently mooted, although plans for his next race are likely to be dictated by the handicapper’s assessment of his performance.

Mahons Glory on his way to winning at Kempton
Mahons Glory on his way to winning at Kempton (John Walton/PA)

Neville said: “We were thrilled with him, it was great for the owners and great for the yard to get a winner on a big day like that.

“We’ll have to see what the handicapper does, but we have different options and we’ll study it and see where we go with him.

“He seems to be a lot better going right-handed, so we could go back to Kempton or Ascot. We’ll see what’s coming up there.”



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Real Whacker team ‘very happy’ following pre-Kempton gallop

Patrick Neville reports The Real Whacker to be firmly on course for next week’s Ladbrokes King George VI Chase after coming through a Tuesday morning workout with flying colours.

The seven-year-old won each of his three starts over fences last term, completing his hat-trick with a narrow defeat of Gerri Colombe in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

He disappointed under a big weight on his reappearance in last month’s Paddy Power Gold Cup, but Neville had a viable excuse after his stable star returned with an overreach and he is confident he is back on-song ahead of his bid for glory in Kempton’s Boxing Day showpiece.

The Real Whacker and Patrick Neville last week
The Real Whacker and Patrick Neville (Ashley Iveson/PA)

“He’s in great shape and we’re looking forward to running him. He’s come on a lot since his last run and we’re delighted with him at the moment,” he said.

“He went away for a piece of work this morning – he’s been to the High Moor in Middleham for a gallop and we were very happy, so it’s just a case of keeping him fresh and well for the next week now.

“I think he maybe only missed two days after the Paddy Power, although he didn’t really miss anything as we had him on the water treadmill, which is a great facility for us here.”

The Real Whacker is a best-priced 10-1 for the King George, with the Willie Mullins-trained Allaho and Paul Nicholls’ defending champion Bravemansgame among his likely rivals.

Dual Ryanair Chase hero Allaho was sidelined for 19 months prior to a workmanlike comeback win in last month’s Clonmel Oil Chase, while Bravemansgame has been beaten in his two starts so far this season.

Sam Twiston-Davies celebrates winning the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase aboard The Real Whacker
Sam Twiston-Davies celebrates winning the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase aboard The Real Whacker (Mike Egerton/PA)

With Gerri Colombe’s participation uncertain and Nicky Henderson’s Shishkin set to line up having refused to start on his intended return at Ascot, the race does have an open look to it and Neville is excited to be in with a shout.

He added: “There will be some very good horses in the race, as you’d expect, but we’re very happy with our horse and that’s all we can ask.

“I think they’re due a good week’s weather, so the ground shouldn’t be as bad as it was in Cheltenham, when it was very heavy.

“Sam (Twiston-Davies) is looking forward to riding him. He was very happy with how he jumped for most of the race the last day and he looked after him once it wasn’t happening.

“We’re looking forward to taking our chance.”



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No nerves for Neville as The Real Whacker gets ready to return

The Real Whacker will have the weight of history on his shoulders in Saturday’s Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham, but his trainer Patrick Neville is unconcerned.

It is two years since the Irish handler made the move from his home in County Limerick to set up at Ann Duffield’s Sun Hill Farm in the Yorkshire Dales, a switch which coincided with the unearthing of a horse that would take his career to new heights.

The Real Whacker was a €21,000 purchase by Neville as an unraced three-year-old in 2019 – and but for the Coronavirus pandemic, there is every chance he would now be in different hands.

“I took a chance on him as I bought him myself a store horse and I had him a year and a half before he was ready to run in a point-to-point. The plan was to run him in a point-to-point and sell him,” Neville explained.

“I knew he was a good horse, we had him ready to run in a point-to-point as a four-year-old and then Covid struck and that was it.

“We said that was our chance gone then as he was a five-year-old, so said we’d keep him and give him a run on the track.”

The Real Whacker finished sixth of 18 as a 150-1 shot on his racecourse debut in a Listowel maiden hurdle in the autumn of 2021, after which he was packed up to make the move across the Irish Sea.

The Real Whacker in his stable
The Real Whacker in his stable (Ashley Iveson/PA)

It did not take him long to make an impact on British soil, bolting up at Carlisle in Duffield’s name, as Neville – who currently trains a string of around 20 horses and rides his stable star every day – worked on getting set up in the UK in his own name.

He said: “When we ran him in Listowel the ground was a bit too good and he was a couple of weeks off being really ready. He had an educational run and he ran very well.

“It was a good race he won in Carlisle and we then took him to the Grade Two in Doncaster (River Don Novices’ Hurdle), where he was a bit unlucky because there was a woeful head wind that day, he got pulled across the track in the straight and lost a lot of ground. He was still a bit green at that stage as well as it was only his third run, so it was a good run to finish second (to Mahler Mission).

“He was to run in the Albert Bartlett then, but he got a knock so we didn’t run him and he was left off then for the season. He came back and had run over hurdles at Cheltenham in October on ground that was a bit quick for him and we decided after that we’d go straight over fences.”

While the son of Mahler was clearly a high-class operator over the smaller obstacles, it is since being switched the larger obstacles that he has really excelled – winning each of his three starts to date, all at Cheltenham, including the narrowest of Festival triumphs over leading Gold Cup contender Gerri Colombe in the Brown Advisory in March.

“I always thought he was going to be a proper chaser. His run in Doncaster showed me that he was a real good horse and the day he won in Carlisle, the way he pulled away from good horses over three-mile-one, he just galloped away from them,” said Neville.

“Going to Cheltenham in March, I wasn’t even thinking of any other horse in the race, only our own horse – that’s the way I think every day.

“You could be sizing up everything else and thinking about different tactics and all that, but I just like to think of our own horse and what we’re going to do.

“Gerri Colombe is a good horse, he’s proved it every time he’s run. I’m still listening to people saying ‘if there was another stride’ he’d have won, but life is full of ifs and buts, isn’t it?

“If they both run in the Gold Cup and he annihilates us, well isn’t it good to be there taking him on and having a go?

“I had a great craic with the owner of Gerri Colombe (Brian Acheson) in Aintree earlier in the year. He’s a good sport and if we finish second to him in the Gold Cup we wouldn’t mind!”

Patrick Neville (right) with The Real Whacker at Cheltenham
Patrick Neville (right) with The Real Whacker at Cheltenham (David Davies/The Jockey Club)

Having sidestepped a small-field engagement at Carlisle a couple of weeks ago, The Real Whacker will instead make his comeback on familiar territory in one of the season’s most prestigious handicaps with 12st on his back.

Al Ferof 11 years ago was the last horse to carry top-weight to victory in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, while you have to go back to Dublin Flyer in 1995 to find the last winner rated in the 160s.

Neville, though, is not one for worrying about statistics, instead focussing on getting his pride and joy to Prestbury Park in the best possible shape for what he views as a starting point rather than the end goal for the season.

He said: “I don’t get too nervous about these things. All we can do is look after him and get him there healthy and well and fit and as good as we can.

“I don’t take much notice of all this carry on with people saying ‘if he doesn’t win on Saturday, he’s not this or he’s not that’. It’s only the start of the season for us.

“He’s come back a bit stronger, so we’d be hoping he’d improve. He’s only ran seven times, so he’s still a very lightly-raced horse for his age.

“We gave him that time and gave him time between races because he’s such a lightly-framed horse and he tries so hard. Even in his work and his cantering he puts everything in, so I think if you ran him too often you’d end up with a very light horse.

“He’s fit and ready for his run and whatever happens on Saturday, and I’d be expecting a big run, he’ll definitely improve.

“You can’t be confident in a race like that, but we’re going there hoping he’ll run very well.”

While looking forward to this weekend’s assignment and another stop or two along the way, in Neville’s mind there is one day that matters above all else and it arrives in four months’ time.

He added: “We’re working back from the Gold Cup and after Saturday we’d be looking forward to Christmas and going for the King George. There’s no reason why not, there isn’t a whole pile else.

“The Cotswold Chase at the end of January might be nearly too near the Festival, so if he ran at Christmas we might just leave him then, but we’ll see.

“Obviously there’s a lot of water to flow under the bridge between now and March and there’ll be a lot of talk about different horses and there’s always a new kid on the block coming.

“There’s a lot of good horses around at the moment, but we have something to dream of anyway, which is what it’s all about.”



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The Real Whacker going for Paddy Power gold

The Real Whacker will make his seasonal reappearance in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in a fortnight’s time, after connections opted against Sunday’s Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at Carlisle.

The seven-year-old enjoyed a tremendous novice campaign over fences last season for North Yorkshire-based Irishman Patrick Neville, winning each of his three starts at Cheltenham including a narrow victory over Gerri Colombe in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Festival in March.

This weekend’s Listed event in Cumbria appeared an ideal starting point on the road to a tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the spring – but with testing conditions forecast, he will instead carry top-weight of 12st in one of the season’s first major handicaps at Prestbury Park on November 18.

The Real Whacker and jockey Sam Twiston-Davies return to the Cheltenham winner's enclosure
The Real Whacker and jockey Sam Twiston-Davies return to the Cheltenham winner’s enclosure (David Davies/The Jockey Club)

Neville said: “I’m not going to go to Carlisle as the ground is too heavy at the moment. It’s his first run back, so we said we’d wait for Cheltenham and go for the Paddy Power.

“Hopefully the ground will be a lot better at Cheltenham and we know he likes the track. He’ll have top-weight, but it’ll be his first run back and a starting point for the year.

“He’s in great shape, I couldn’t be happier with him. Sam (Twiston-Davies) came up to Middleham during the week and sat on him for the first time since Cheltenham in March and he was very happy.

“Carlisle would have been a lovely starting point, but on heavy ground around there we just decided we didn’t want to do that to him first time out.”



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Neville has much to look forward to with The Real Whacker

Patrick Neville is considering options at Down Royal and Newbury for stable star The Real Whacker’s seasonal reappearance.

The seven-year-old enjoyed an excellent novice campaign over fences last term, winning each of his three starts at Cheltenham including a popular Festival success in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.

North Yorkshire-based Neville is confident his pride and joy has returned from a summer break better than ever and is looking forward to seeing him return to competitive action in the autumn.

“He’s done really well over the summer. He came back in around mid-July and he’s back cantering away now and is in great form,” he said.

The Real Whacker and Sam Twiston-Davies will be reunited this season
The Real Whacker and Sam Twiston-Davies will be reunited this season (David Davies for The Jockey Club)

“He looks well and has developed into a nice horse over the summer. He’s only really a horse now to be honest. He was always lightly-framed but he’s filled into his frame now and is looking fierce well.

“I’ve had Sam Twiston-Davies ringing me up to see how he is and he is looking forward to riding him for the season, all going well.”

Neville is planning to give The Real Whacker just two runs before a return to the Cotswolds in March for a tilt at Cheltenham Gold Cup glory.

He added: “There’s Coral Gold Cup at Newbury (December 2) or Down Royal on early November is another option. There’s a second-season novice chase there that we’ll have a look at.

“You’ve got the King George at Christmas and Cheltenham in January, so we’ll see. We’d be thinking two runs and then the Gold Cup – that’s the plan.”



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The Real Whacker hangs on in Brown Advisory thriller

The Real Whacker made every yard to give Patrick Neville a fairytale victory in a thrilling edition of the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham.

A winner at the Prestbury Park track on both of his previous outings this term, including the ‘Dipper’ over shorter on New Year’s Day, he was bounced out by Sam Twiston-Davies to take up his customary position at the head of affairs.

The Real Whacker (8-1) produced a clinical round of jumping on the front end, with the Daryl Jacob-ridden Bronn hot on his tail throughout.

Despite Galia Des Liteaux, 5-4 favourite Gerri Colombe and the heavily-backed Sir Gerhard all edging their way into contention when the race began to develop, as the runners turned for home at the bottom of the famous hill it was The Real Whacker and Bronn that were still disputing matters.

Bronn was beaten off after the last, but the drama did not end there as Jordan Gainford conjured up extra from the fast-finishing Gerri Colombe who was staying on strongly as The Real Whacker’s stride began to shorten.

But the line came just in time to give Neville his first winner at the Festival and the inspired Twiston-Davies his first since 2016.

“It was a fantastic race, it’s always a privilege to be asked to ride in these races,” said the delighted winning rider.

“I was lucky to ride him in the Dipper, let alone today as well. Paddy Neville, all the way through, has been a great supporter. He said he was in wicked good nick and fair play, he was absolutely spot on.

“He races in a great manner – although he’s in front and he’s doing a lot of the hard work you’re able to get the breathers in everywhere you want. With his jumping he’s always filling himself up, my God it feels like a long way up the run-in!”

Winning connections of The Real Whacker
Winning connections of The Real Whacker (Mike Egerton/PA)

The Real Whacker had also been under consideration for Friday’s Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup before connections opted to stick to novice company.

Part-owner Davey Mann said: “I thought he was beaten, honestly – I genuinely thought we’d been caught on the line.

“He was there, he jumped well and came up the hill and did everything right. I thought we were beaten, but he stuck his old head out and fair play to him.

“We had him in the Gold Cup and the decision was Paddy’s. He kept it open for a while, but we always thought it would be the Brown Advisory and I think it was the right call.

“Who can say in the last six months that they’ve had three winners in Cheltenham? We had the November meeting, we had New Year’s Day and now we’ve pulled off the Brown Advisory.”

Cheltenham Festival 2023 – Festival Wednesday – Cheltenham Racecourse
David Mann in his red suit (Mike Egerton/PA)

Ahead of The Real Whacker’s New Year’s Day triumph, County Limerick nightclub owner Mann pulled an all-nighter before travelling to Cheltenham and was sporting the same red suit and sunglasses combination for his return to the Cotswolds.

He added: “I bought this suit in Chicago a year ago and I kept it for the first time we were here in Cheltenham.

“Paddy said to me after New Year’s Day ‘keep that suit for March’. I got home, gave it to my girls and said ‘take it to cleaners, leave the plastic on it and leave it for March’!”

The Real Whacker on his way to victory
The Real Whacker on his way to victory (Mike Egerton/PA)

Neville, who is based in Leyburn, said: “It was a long run to the line, but he toughed it out and he’s a lovely horse.

“The ground was a bit soft for him and we were dreading that, but he jumped well and it worked out.

“I was happy with the rhythm he was in and Sam kept him out for the better ground. We made that plan earlier on today and it worked.

“He’s won three times now here – I don’t think I’ll run him anywhere else!

“I trained in Ireland for 15 years and had a couple of good winners, but the last couple of years were tough as I just couldn’t get the owners. Hopefully it will work out better over here.”

Considering future plans, the trainer added: “If we can keep him one piece, we’ll come back here next year for the Gold Cup.

“I was toying with the Gold Cup this year, but we probably made the right decision for the horse because he’d only run six times before today.

“We’ll see how he comes out of this. We might put him away for the summer or we might go to Punchestown and we might go to Listowel in the autumn as it’s one of my favourite tracks.”

Gerri Colombe could not reel in The Real Whacker
Gerri Colombe could not reel in The Real Whacker (Steven Paston/PA)

Gordon Elliott admitted his disappointment in defeat, but retains plenty of faith in the narrow runner-up.

He said: “We’re disappointed, you always want to win but you can’t take anything away from the winner, he jumped out and went along in front the whole way.

“They were probably playing cat and mouse and then looked up and the winner had gone but there’s no taking away from him, the best horse on the day won and there was no excuse.

“Jordan is a bit disappointed but he gave him a great ride. He’s only young and he’s going to have loads of days. We won’t lose faith in Gerri yet.

“He hit the second last on the first circuit and got a bit close to that but apart form that he wasn’t too bad. I’m disappointed but that’s the game we’re in.

“He’s been beaten a short head in a Grade One and a stride after the line he was up by a neck.

“I’d say it’s very difficult for the jockeys with the whip rules, it will be playing on their minds.”



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Neville favouring Festival novice option for The Real Whacker

Patrick Neville will leave the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup door open, yet admitted he is leaning towards running The Real Whacker in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at next week’s Festival meeting.

The promising seven-year-old has won both his starts over fences and crucially both victories have come at Cheltenham this term.

In November, he won a five-runner novices’ chase over an extended three miles when partnered by Gavin Sheehan and, on New Year’s Day, followed up in the Grade Two Dipper over an extended two and a half miles, this time ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies.

The Real Whacker took the scalp of Grade One winner Monmiral in the latter race and is now a general 9-2 third favourite for the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase on Wednesday.

However, Neville has not ruled out a tilt at Friday’s Gold Cup, for which he is a 50-1 shot.

The Irishman, who trains at Leyburn in North Yorkshire, said: “The horse is in super form – we couldn’t be happier with him.

“We are, at the moment, probably going to the Brown Advisory, but we will make a decision at the weekend, as there is another stage for the Gold Cup on Saturday.

“We’re just hanging in there. It is tempting, but we will wait and see. I think there will be a few who will come out of it because of the ground.”

Neville spent almost two years as assistant trainer to Ann Duffield and was a key player in N’Golo’s Swinton Hurdle success last May.

The trainer has had seven winners from 39 runners in his own name since taking out his licence in November and is eager to get back to Prestbury Park.

“It was great to take on the big boys and beat them there,” added Neville.

“It is great to have a horse like that going there. He stays well and he’s not short of speed either. His jumping is unbelievable.

“Everything has gone great since his last run. He is lightly raced and physically he has improved a bit, even from his New Year’s Day run – he’s getting stronger.

“He will probably go for the novice chase this year and then hopefully, if we get back next year, we will have a go at the Gold Cup, as then he would have more experience under his belt.

“We are leaning that way, but we’ll keep it open for another few days and dream away.”



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Neville enjoys memorable day with Catterick treble

Four weeks out from saddling The Real Whacker in pursuit of Cheltenham Festival glory, trainer Patrick Neville enjoyed a memorable afternoon by landing a treble in the first three races at Catterick.

The Real Whacker is the star of a team of around 20 horses Neville trains out of Ann Duffield’s yard in North Yorkshire, having made the move from Ireland in 2021.

The seven-year-old has already won twice at Cheltenham this season, having followed up a successful chasing debut at Cheltenham in November with an impressive front-running display in the Dipper on New Year’s Day, and connections are still considering whether to run in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Festival or have an ambitious tilt at the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Neville provided a positive update on his stable star’s well being after his Catterick hat-trick, saying: “The Real Whacker is in super form at the moment, I couldn’t be happier with him.

“We’re still in the Gold Cup and we’re still in the novice and we’ll just wait another few weeks and see where we are. It’ll depend on the weather and ground and things like that.

“There’ll be a few horses dropping out in the next few weeks, as we’ve seen with Allaho today missing the Ryanair.”

The Real Whacker was Neville’s only previous winner this season, but Fiston Du Mou put that right in Catterick’s curtain-raising Jumping For Joy On Racing TV Novices’ Handicap Chase.

Ridden by Gavin Sheehan, the 15-8 chance made every yard of the running and had enough in the tank at the finish to see off Creative Control by three-quarters of a length.

Neville saddled two of the three runners in the Meetings That Matter On Racing TV Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle and it was 9-1 shot Not Staying Long who emerged victorious under Brian Hughes, with her better-fancied stablemate Beauty To Behold last of the trio.

An excellent day’s work was completed in the racingtv.com Handicap Hurdle, with the Hughes-ridden Kavanaghs Cross leading home a one-two for Neville as Glentruan was a half-length runner-up.

“I had a double in Ireland, but I’ve never had a treble before, so we’ll take it. The horses are in good form and I’m delighted with the way they all ran,” the trainer added.

“The first race was a tricky enough race with only two runners and we had to make the running and do it the hard way, then in the mares’ race I was hoping there’d more runners to give Beauty To Behold some cover, but she ran very keen.

“The other mare did it well though and I’m happy enough with both of them. Hopefully we can keep them all in good form.”



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Brown Advisory looks ‘most logical’ target for The Real Whacker

Patrick Neville is planning to head straight to the Cheltenham Festival with his exciting novice chaser The Real Whacker.

Placed in Grade Two company as a novice hurdler last season, the seven-year-old made a successful chasing debut at Cheltenham in November before producing a spring-heeled display to land the Dipper Novices’ Chase on his return to Prestbury Park on New Year’s Day.

The Real Whacker has been given an ambitious entry in the Cheltenham Gold Cup but looks set to stick to novice company, with a step back up in trip for the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase the likely target.

Neville said: “He came out of the race on New Year’s Day very good, I’m very happy with him. He stepped up a good bit and I was delighted with him.

“I think he’ll go straight to the Festival now – we’re not that far away. Probably the most logical will be the Brown Advisory. I gave him an entry in the Gold Cup, but we’ll probably go for the three-mile novice.

“His jumping is very good and his last run was only his sixth run. He hasn’t much mileage on the clock and if he keeps progressing, I’ll be happy.”

The Real Whacker is the star of a team of around 20 horses Neville trains out of Ann Duffield’s yard in North Yorkshire, having made the move from Ireland in 2021.

Neville was due to take up residence at a yard of his own yard in nearby Middleham, but ended up setting up alongside Duffield on the outskirts of Leyburn and it has proved a fruitful relationship.

“I came over a year ago last November. I came to take a yard and when that fell through I ended up going to Ann Duffield and I’m delighted it’s working out,” the trainer added.

The Real Whacker was a winner at Cheltenham in November
The Real Whacker was a winner at Cheltenham in November (David Davies/Jockey Club)

“I thought it would be easy transferring the Irish licence over but it wasn’t – it took nine or 10 months. Initially we were running the National Hunt horses under Ann’s name and since we came over we’ve had about 17 winners.

“N’Golo was a Grade Three winner and ‘Whacker’ was second in the Grade Two hurdle last year.”

Reflecting on his decision to move across the Irish Sea, Neville said: “I’ve been training in Ireland since around 2006 and we had some nice winners, but just for the last couple of years it was a struggle. We just couldn’t get owners.

“The good thing about the UK is there’s plenty of racing and you can train horses for races. In Ireland there might be only one race meeting on during the week and you could be balloted out then for six or seven weeks. It’s very hard to keep a horse training for that long without getting into a race.

“I travelled over to England a few times and a had a few winners and I just thought ‘you know what, it’s costing too much to travel over, I’ll give it a go over here for a while and see how it goes’.

“We’ve got fabulous facilities and I get on great with Ann. I rent 22 or 23 boxes off her, it’s a lovely location and it’s going well.”



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The Real Whacker shocks Dipper rivals

The Real Whacker stunned his rivals with an outsider’s victory in the Paddy Power Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham.

The seven-year-old was a 10-1 chance for the Grade Two under Sam Twiston-Davies, with Paul Nicholls’ Monmiral the most fancied of the field as the 13-8 favourite for the race better known as the Dipper.

Jumping exceptionally throughout, the Patrick Neville-trained gelding travelled strongly from the off and was not for catching when striding into an unassailable lead up the hill.

The Real Whacker came home three and a quarter lengths in front of Monmiral, with Betfair introducing him as a 25-1 chance for the Turners Novices’ Chase at the Festival and a 33-1 shot for the Brown Advisory at the March showpiece.

Neville is targeting the Festival, but will give his charge multiple options.

The trainer said: “He is a big frame and a bit babyish. We will mind him. We dropped him back (in trip), the idea being to put them under pressure, as he jumps so well.

“He will come back here for the Festival. He’ll be entered in a couple – he might even go for the Gold Cup!

“I’ve minded him as I know he is a good one. If he was in a bigger yard he would have got lost. It is brilliant.

The Real Whacker will be given multiple Festival quotes
The Real Whacker will be given multiple Festival quotes (David Davies/PA)

“Looking at Monmiral, you had to respect him as he is a Grade One winner, but this horse is progressing and is on the up. Hopefully he will be a Grade One winner soon.

“He got into a lovely rhythm. Gavin Sheehan rode him the last day and filled him with confidence. Gavin wasn’t available today, which was disappointing, as he is at Catterick.

“I’ve been looking at Sam since a young lad riding around here and he has ridden loads of winners and he knows it like the back of his hand. He was a great sub but between the two of them they are top-class men but it helps when they have a nice horse underneath them.”

Paul Nicholls still rates Monmiral highly
Paul Nicholls still rates Monmiral highly (Nigel French/PA)

Nicholls retains plenty of faith in Monmiral despite his defeat.

He said: “He’s still a bit babyish. I don’t think he did a lot wrong, but he needs to grow up a bit and he’ll be all right in time.

“Clan (Des Obeaux) was a bit like that when he was that age. It took him until six to get to that next level.

“It is bit like Bravemansgame as everyone knocked his form as a five-year-old and look at him now. Monmiral will be the same, he just needs time.”



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