For a racehorse that has competed 42 times over the jumps and on the flat at the age of eight, it’s only fair that The Jam Man has enjoyed a long summer.
Ronan McNally’s star hasn’t been seen in action since February, and as an active horse, it is somewhat surprising that he is yet to make a seasonal re-appearance with racing over fences back on the calendar.
— ronan mcnally (@McnallyRonan) April 14, 2021
Those that follow the latest racing results will know that the early winter period was a goldmine for the Armagh based raider in 2020. First, he took down a decent handicap race at York, pipping Solo Saxophone on the line by a neck – taking full advantage of being the bottom weight in the field.
That was enough to convince McNally that The Jam Man was ready for a step up in class on Irish soil, and so an entry into the Troytown Handicap at Navan was made. The November renewal was simply a chance to test the then seven-year-old against more experienced campaigners, and even McNally himself must have been surprised when not only was his horse well backed before the off, but then also went on to meet such lofty expectations with a huge 18-length victory.
Such was his enhanced reputation, The Jam Man ran off an 11-05 handicap at the Haydock Park Stayers’ Hurdle. Even so, he produced an impressive enough showing on the heavy ground in November 2020, finishing sixth but leaving with his status as one to watch intact – he had been poorly treated by the handicapper.
That was the case again as McNally’s yard headed to Leopardstown for the William Fry Handicap in February. The Jam Man is a small horse by all accounts, and having to carry 11-03 around a heavy track in excellent company was always likely to be too much of an ask – hence his lowly finish on that final outing of the season.
If the handicapper is more realistic this term, we could see a return to form for The Jam Man, and a return to Navan in November – where his ascendance started – could well be the smart way to go to dust off those summer cobwebs.
The success that McNally has had with The Jam Man and the likes of Dreal Deal is incredible when you consider that training is very much a part-time pursuit for the Armagh native.
He splits his time between whipping his horses into shape and running a kitchen and bathroom installation business and told The Irish Independent that he has ‘no great plans’ to expand his racing empire – though, he has now applied for his full licence.
— ronan mcnally (@McnallyRonan) January 22, 2021
Another trip to the Cheltenham Festival in March will presumably be the end goal, although that will perhaps be dictated by how well Deal Dreal takes to jumping over fences in 2021-22.
“He is still out in the field, and I’d say he’ll probably go jumping,” McNally confirmed. “I’ll hope to give him a couple of runs on the flat at the tail end of the season and I’ll go over fences, I’d imagine.”
With at least two quality operators on his books, you wonder how long it will be before McNally puts down his saw and screwdriver and takes up training full time.