Condon on comeback trail

Davy Condon is nearing a return to competitive action after riding out on Wednesday morning for the first time since suffering a heavy fall at Cork in August.

Condon on comeback trail

Condon was partnering the Gordon Elliott-trained Flaxen Flare at the Mallow track, a horse he guided to Cheltenham Festival glory in the Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle in March the previous year, when he crashed out two flights from the finish.

The jockey suffered three fractured vertebrae in the fall and initially feared he may never ride again after suffering a rare condition called spinal concussion, which briefly left him unable to move from the neck down.

Thankfully he has made a full recovery and was delighted to be back in the saddle at Elliott’s yard yesterday.

Condon said: “I rode five lots and did a bit of schooling, so it was pretty much a full work day and that is what I wanted. There is no point going back and tip-toeing around. I enjoyed it.

“I’m hoping to be back for Christmas. I won’t be riding this weekend, but I might look at the following weekend. We’ll just see how we go.

“My back healed fairly quickly, thankfully, and all the scans came back clear, so it’s just a case of getting fully fit now.

“Every day riding out will help. You can’t beat riding out as you use totally different muscles when you’re riding to normal exercise.

“I can’t wait to get back.”

Condon’s potential mounts over the festive period include Elliott’s talented dual-purpose performer Bayan, who is being targeted at The Ladbroke at Ascot on December 20.

Meanwhile last year’s winner Chance Du Roy heads a field of 25 for the Betfred Becher Chase at Aintree on Saturday.

The Philip Hobbs-trained gelding will be having his first run since finishing finish sixth to Pineau De Re in the Crabbie’s Grand National back over the famous fences in April.

Ballybough Gorta was fourth 12 months ago has another crack at this handicap over three and a quarter miles. His trainer Peter Bowen is also responsible for this year’s Scottish National hero Al Co, who has to carry top weight.

Gordon Elliott’s Troytown Chase winner Balbriggan heads a three-pronged attack from Ireland backed up by the Jim Dreaper-trained Goonyella and Tom Gibney’s Lion Na Bearnai, winner of the 2012 Irish Grand National.

Sue Smith’s Mr Moonshine could try to improve on his third place in this race last year.

Others in a highly-competitive line-up include Burton Port, Mendip Express, Mon Parrain, Our Father, Renard, Shakalakaboomboom and Oscar Time, who was second in the 2011 Grand National and fourth in 2013.

Simply Ned is likely to travel to Ireland next to take in the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown on December 27.

Beaten only by Uxizandre in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham last month, trainer Nicky Richards feels he is worth another crack at the highest level.

After taking a quiet route last season, he found just Balder Succes too good as a novice at Aintree and could meet his Cheltenham conqueror again.

“He was only a 130-rated hurdler but he’s improved with every run over fences,” said Richards.

“Both times we’ve dipped our toe in against the big boys we’ve been beaten by one of Alan King’s, Balder Succes at Aintree and Uxizandre at Cheltenham.

“I’m half-thinking we’ll take him to Ireland as I want to keep him left-handed for now and there’s nothing for him over here.

“We may go the other way round with him at some stage but for now I’ll stick to what we know.”

Harry Fry will keep Jollyallan under the radar for the time being as he looks to get more experience into the promising novice.

Sixth in the champion bumper at Punchestown in April, he took his tally over timber to two from two at Newbury last week.

He was sent off at 1-8 and beat just four rivals in fine style, although Fry feels he lacks the experience to take on the better novices just yet.

“I would have preferred him to have had a bit more of a race to be honest,” said Fry

“Hopefully he’ll be out at Christmas somewhere, but because of his inexperience I’d prefer to keep him low key for now and give him more practice.”

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