Poignant double for Donoghue as gentleman Andy remembered

Local jockey Keith Donoghue recorded a poignant double on Saturday afternoon’s Navan card. The rider sported a black armband in memory of his grand uncle Andy Lynch who was laid to rest this afternoon.

Dunsany’s Andy was himself a highly distinguished and universally popular member of the local horse fraternity. Through his role as whipper-in of the local Hunt and having been Travelling Head Lad for Castletown trainer Noel Meade for many years.

More than that, though, Andy was an accomplished trainer in his own right. Initially for the Jones family at their yard in Kileen Glebe, Dunsany, before he branched out to have other owners as well. Though fittingly, it was for his landlords he had his greatest day as a trainer.

The late Andy Lynch (far right)

Courtesy of the supremely talented but equally luckless Zabana. Chris Jones’s gelding was cruelly denied victory at the Cheltenham Festival but made up for it a little over a month later in Punchestown. Giving Andy the Grade One success as a trainer his overall contribution to Irish racing thoroughly deserved.

Away from horses, the other great passion in his life was unquestionably GAA. A fine footballer in his own right, he lined out a centre half back when his native Dunshaughlin won the Meath Intermediate Football Championship of 1967. But by the time I was blessed to make his friendship years later, he and his late wife May were greater supporters of and contributors to Dunsany GFC.

The men in red and white never did win that elusive Meath JFC for Andy to savour but they were queens of Ladies Football while he was at their helm. No doubt both he and May were casting a quiet eye above tonight as Megan Thynne and the rest of our Meath heroes were getting their 2023 campaign under way.

There was a little bit too much cut in the ground Andy, they’ll come on for the run, don’t worry. May you rest in peace my friend.

***

Donoghue’s double was initiated when firstly Path D’Oroux was perhaps a fortunate winner of the Rated Novice Hurdle. Market leaders Landrake and Intranet were taken out of the equation. The former coming to grief at the third last flight while the latter pulled up with an injury which hopefully wasn’t as bad as it looked.

As my late father used to say however, they’re there to be jumped, and, despite, ironically, ploughing the last out of it, Keith rousted up Gavin Cromwell’s charge for a cosy and poignant success. Mind you, if the first leg of the brace had a degree of fortune to it, the clincher was all down to the skill and tenacity of the man in the plate.

Pure Sirloin (centre) just gets up to beat Pat Downey’s Penny Jar

At no stage did Pure Sirloin look like he was going to win bar three strides from the line. But his human – no doubt getting an extra drive from afar – coaxed, cajoled and all but lifted the 7/1-shot over the line. In so doing providing the third leg of a full Lucky 15 for yours truly. Here’s to you, Andy!

The bet was brought up by the wonderfully impressive Willie Mullins-trained It’s For Me in the Bumper which, unusually, wasn’t the concluding contest on the card. Available at 10/1 for the Cheltenham Champion Bumper before it had even ran, some firms were willing to go no greater than 4s after what Jerry Hannon rightly described in commentary as “A steering job for Patrick Mullins”.

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