Rathkeale’s McNamara eyeing up Cheltenham November feature with Black Scorpion

Black Scorpion finished third in the JT McNamara Ladbrokes Munster National and could now head to Cheltenham for the BetVictor Gold Cup. Photo: Mark Boylan, Limerick Voice

There’s little doubting that the ultimate ambition of anyone involved in horse racing is to taste success at Cheltenham’s iconic racing amphitheatre, and Rathkeale trainer Eric McNamara may have a horse to take him to the promised land for the first time in over a decade next month.

The Grade 1-winning handler revealed to Limerick Voice Sport that his progressive chaser Black Scorpion is being considered for a tilt at the £160,000 BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham’s November Meeting, having finished an excellent third in the JT McNamara Ladbrokes Munster National earlier this month at Limerick.

McNamara said: “We were happy with his effort in the Munster National when he was just a little keen and ended up in front too early – the race wasn’t really run to suit him.

“His next start could be at Cheltenham on 17 November in the race formerly known as the Paddy Power. It’s possible he could run there.”

He added of the Don’t Go There Syndicate’s seven-year-old: “He jumped very well last time and that seemed to take him to the front so we’ll ride him with a little more restriction in the early part of the race next time.”

While not having to bridge a gap of the same magnitude as Limerick’s hurlers this year, McNamara has been without a Cotswolds winner since 2007 when Hordago recorded a third success at the track and provided the recently retired Katie Walsh with a first Cheltenham winner.

The trainer, who has held a license since 1984 and has enjoyed a trio of triumphs in Listowel’s Kerry National, said of his Cheltenham fortunes: “We’ve been lucky there before and Hordago’s three wins were great. The first winner we ever had at Cheltenham was with a horse called Dancing Vision, who was ridden by the late John Thomas McNamara. That was actually John Thomas’ first winner there as well.”

Although out of luck with Black Scorpion in the Munster National, McNamara visited the Limerick winner’s enclosure at the same meeting earlier this month as Percy Veer landed the Listed Dunraven Hotel Adare Novice Hurdle in impressive style when the 25-1 outsider of the field.

He said of his Greenmount Park hero: “Percy Veer has improved plenty and looks to be going in the right direction. He may well go to Cork for a three-mile Listed Hurdle on Sunday.”

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