Top apprentice Adam McNamara targets new test

Ballesteros, ridden by Adam McNamara, centre, wins at Nottingham yesterday, bringing the jockeys tally of winners for the year to 53. He also won on board Rashfords Double (Picture: Mike Egerton/PA).
Ballesteros, ridden by Adam McNamara, centre, wins at Nottingham yesterday, bringing the jockeys tally of winners for the year to 53. He also won on board Rashfords Double (Picture: Mike Egerton/PA).
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TOP apprentice Adam McNamara has reflected on a “brilliant” debut season as he prepares to hang up his riding boots for the winter.

An impressive double at Nottingham yesterday, courtesy of the Richard Fahey-trained Rashford’s Double and Ballesteros, took his tally of winners for the year to 53.

It is even more remarkable considering the Malton-based teenager, victorious aboard Heartbreak City in York’s Ebor, did not record his first career victory until January – and has still to pass his driving test.

However, the 19-year-old will stop riding next week so he can save the remnants of his apprentice rider’s ‘claim’ for next year – McNamara will be entitled to a 3lb weight allowance until he has recorded 95 triumphs. “It’s been brilliant, really,” McNamara told The Yorkshire Post after yesterday’s successes.

“The 50-winner landmark last week, when London Prize won, is testament to how well it has gone. It’s all gone very quickly.

“I’ll be finishing riding this week, or early next week, and be very selective with my rides over the winter. It will be important to keep up the momentum and hit the ground running next year.

“Passing my driving test is the No 1 objective, plus going home to Ireland to see my family and breaking in the yearlings at Mr Fahey’s.”

McNamara is full of praise for the support and counsel received from Fahey and his agent Richard Hale.

He say both advised him to have a quiet winter to maximise his chances of making a smooth transition from promising apprentice to fully fledged rider capable of competing against world-class jockeys like Frankie Dettori and Ryan Moore on equal terms.

He also hopes Rashford’s Double is a horse that can step up a level next season after the two-year-old, owned by Middleham Park Racing, made it three wins on the bounce when taking the opener over a mile. “He’s a nice, progressive horse and a nice one for next year,” said McNamara.

As for the quirky Ballesteros, who was recording his eighth win from 56 starts, the jockey was philosophical: “It does depend if he gets out of bed on the right side. Luckily he did.”

Like all in racing, McNamara was also enthralled by Tuesday’s Emirates Melbourne Cup when Heartbreak City, trained in Ireland by Tony Martin, was beaten a whisker by Almandin – the horse’s syndicate of owners who travelled Down Under from Ireland enduring an emotional roller-coaster.

“It was brilliant – he’s a horse of a lifetime for his owners and everyone involved,” said McNamara. “He seems to have improved since the Ebor. To travel all that way, and then come so close after being drawn on the outer, he was very unlucky. Joao Moreira has given him a peach of a ride.”

Dual winner Cue Card and 2015 Gold Cup hero Coneygree are the star names among 22 entries for the Betfair Chase at Haydock on November 19. Colin Tizzard’s Cue Card met with defeat at Wetherby last Saturday, but is favourite to win the first leg of the £1m Triple Crown, which he came so close to landing last season before falling in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.