The Ladbrokes Munster National, to be run at Limerick Racecourse on Sunday, October 9, has been renamed to honour the memory of John Thomas McNamara.
The €100,000 event will be run to commemorate the legendary local amateur rider who partnered 602 winners on the point-to-point circuit alone but whose considerable talent reached a much wider audience with his many high-profile wins on the racecourse, particularly at Punchestown and Cheltenham, in a long and successful career.
McNamara enjoyed tremendous success in the saddle and was long associated with locally-based trainer Enda Bolger and owner JP McManus.
He won the La Touche Cup at the Punchestown Festival on four occasions, on the great Risk Of Thunder in 2002 and Spot Thedifference in 2004 and 2007 and most recently on L’Ami in 2010. Spot Thedifference also gave him one of four Cheltenham Festival winners.
The pair landed the inaugural running of the Cross Country Chase in 2005 but McNamara’s first Festival winner had come three years earlier on the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Rith Dubh in the National Hunt Chase.
He won the Foxhunter Chase on Drombeag, another trained by O’Neill, and won the National Hunt Chase for a second time on Rebecca Curtis’ Teaforthree in 2012. In all, he rode 16 winners at Cheltenham racecourse.
Lord Scoundrel and Wrath Of Titans, two big winners for Gordon Elliott in recent months, head an entry of 36 horses for the race.
On his penultimate start, Lord Scoundrel won the TheTote.com Galway Plate and he has been handed top-weight of 11st 10lbs. Wrath Of Titans is set to carry 10st 5lbs as he bids to add to his success in the Guinness Kerry National under Lisa O’Neill at Listowel earlier this month.
In all Elliott has entered eight horses, including Clarcam (11st 9lbs), as he bids to win the race for the first time.
Henry de Bromhead, who won the race last year with the Andrew Lynch-ridden Sadler’s Risk, has made five entries. The highest-rated of the quintet is Domesday Book on 10st 6lbs while Elegant Statesman and The King Of Brega have both been allotted 10st 1lb.
Both Domesday Book and The King Of Brega are winners over fences at the course.
Rogue Angel, who won the BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse in March and the previous year’s winner of the same race Thunder And Roses, could both represent Mouse Morris who has won the race on six previous occasions.
They have been handed 10st 12lbs and 10st 11lbs respectively while Folsom Blue (10st 1lb) and Dromnea (9st 12lbs) have also been entered by the Everardsgrange trainer.
Paul Nicholls was successful with the Ruby Walsh-ridden Dear Villez in 2008 and he has entered Vivaldi Collonges (11st 6lbs). Noel Meade is a three-time winner and he has made three entries, headed by Tulsa Jack on 10st 2lbs.
A winner with Colca Canyon in 2004, Jessica Harrington has entered Sandymount Duke (10st 7lbs) while Michael Hourigan has entered two, The Job Is Right on 10st 5lbs and Hash Brown on 9st 4lbs.
Hourigan won the race with Mossbank in 2007 and another local trainer on the roll of honour is Eric McNamara who trained Kaselectric to win in 1999. He has entered both Dare To Endeavour and Sir Harry Cash who have been allotted 10st and 8st 8lbs at this stage.
Conor O’Neill, General Manager of Limerick Racecourse, said, “I’m absolutely delighted with the calibre of entries for the inaugural running of the JT McNamara Ladbrokes Munster National.
“John Thomas McNamara and the Ladbrokes Munster National are two names which are synonymous with horse racing in Limerick. John Thomas, a native of Croom, County Limerick will forever be fondly renowned as one of the greatest horsemen of all time after his passing in July.
“A highly regarded and well respected amateur jockey, John Thomas was a man with a phenomenal talent which he combined with extraordinary determination and incredible bravery to enjoy success at the highest levels.
“The Ladbrokes Munster National is one of the highlights of the National Hunt calendar and the eagerly anticipated spectacle boasts a prize-fund of €100,000. It is only fitting that the Ladbrokes Munster National is renamed as a tribute to the legendary John Thomas McNamara and it is an association that everybody at Limerick Racecourse is very proud to be a part of.”