Sport

Niall Houlihan wins 'Ride of the Month' for December

A Dungarvan jockey has won 'Ride of the Month' after a superb display saw him come from nowhere to land on the line at Fontwell on St. Stephen's Day.

Niall Houlihan guided the Ben Pauling trained 'Not At Present' to victory in the Barber Kurakina Memorial Handicap Hurdle as the 7-year-old came from nowhere to score his fourth victory over hurdles, and a third on the spin.

The horse had drifted out to a massive 1,000/1 in the in-race betting, before Houlihan sprinkled his magic and managed to rally the seemingly shot-for-stamina son of Presenting, squeezing him into the lead just 100m from the finish line as he saw off 'Khan' by three-quarters of a length.

'Not At Present' had intitially raced rather lazily, before moving close up to the front of the pack. However, he soon dropped to the rear and seemed to niggle along in third place before being pushed along with one circuit to go.

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He was soon ridden and had 10 lengths to find on the leader in fourth when clearing the third last, and it looked as if Houlihan's mount had run his race well before the final furlongs.

Shockingly, in the background as the camera panned upon the leaders, the 7-year-old was seen suddenly rallying with might as he was approaching the last, clearing the final hurdle and staying on as he moved into third in the run-in down the straight.

The Ben Pauling trained hurdler then kept on strongly to lead going into the final stretch and scored the 3 mile 2 furlong affair in the most unlikely of fashions.

Houlihan has since been rewarded for his seemingly impossible feat by scooping 'The Ride of the Month' award for December from At The Races.

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In a touch of class, while picking up £500 for his efforts, the Dungarvan jockey has donated a seperate £500 to the Injured Jockey's Fund.

Houlihan currently rides for Gary Moore, and is back in action today at Leicester as he rides the Richard Rowe trained Celma Des Bois at 15:50.

His brother Sean Houlihan, who is based with Philip Hobbs, goes in the same race aboard the Paul Henderson trained Maasai Warrior.

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