Condon steps in to ensure Go Native stays in hunt for £1m

GO Native's opportunity for a £1m windfall was within a whisker of being taken away as he claimed the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton by a short-head from Starluck.

As the winner of the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle, Noel Meade's gelding will qualify for the Triple Crown bonus if he goes on to take the Champion Hurdle in March.

Go Native has to be ridden with exactly the same exaggerated waiting tactics as his recently-retired stablemate Harchibald.

With Meade's usual jockey Paul Carberry confined to the stands through suspension, it was up to Davy Condon to attempt his best impression of the hold-up maestro.

In fact, Condon almost played his hand a little too early as the race began in earnest at the final flight and a fragile lead had almost disappeared by the post.

Nevertheless, this was a remarkable turnaround in Condon's fortunes. Stable jockey last season to Cumbrian trainer Nicky Richards, he was a popular figure on the Yorkshire jumping circuit – though the winners were few and far between.

Back in is native Ireland, Condon says he feels stronger for having come through such adversity.

The disappointment is that he will not keep the ride on Go Native in the Champion Hurdle; Noel Meade's stable jockey Paul Carberry, who was previously number one at Ferdy Murphy's West Witton yard in North Yorkshire, will be back in the saddle after serving his suspension for failing a breathalyser test prior to racing recently.

"He travels so well and jumps quick, but he goes for 100 yards and then idles," said Condon.

"The ground is dead and tacky. He does tend to think he has done enough, but on better ground he would go for a bit further.

"He stuck his neck out when other horses came to him and I'd say he'll definitely take all the beating at Cheltenham, but that's not my worry as Paul will be back on then! He's a perfect Paul Carberry ride."

The disappointment, again, was the JP McManus-owned Binocular who could only finish third, while Cape Tribulation was a creditable fourth for Malton trainer Malcolm Jefferson.

He told the Yorkshire Post that his stable star will probably run in Haydock's Champion Hurdle trial in February before possibly lining up in hurdling's premier race.

Meanwhile Keith Reveley's Tazbar put up an encouraging performance to finish second in the Feltham Novices Chase to Long Run, a six figure purchase in France for owner Robert Waley-Cohen.

The RSA Chase at Cheltenham appears a likely target for both – although Long Run's jumping will have to improve to justify favouritism.

Long Run is ridden by the owner's son Sam, an amateur, who said: "I want to thank everyone who has put up with me over Christmas and thank those who have let me keep the ride.

"I went down to school him and he went well but I didn't think he would go that well.

"He will take plenty of beating and is very, very exciting."

With Waley-Cohen buying the horse for his son to ride, trainer Nicky Henderson said that the jockey booking will at least be straightforward for Cheltenham.