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First winner for former jockey Tony Kelly

It was a day to remember for former national hunt jockey Tony Kelly when he saddled his first winner as a point-to-point handler.

The Galway native was formerly a successful rider in the north of England before an injury brought an end to his race-riding career.

In all Kelly rode 87 winners in Britain, where he was formerly stable jockey to Rebecca Menzies at her Co. Durham yard before he suffered a fracture of his T7 vertebra in a fall from the Menzies-trained Captain Mowbray at Southwell in April 2018.

Earlier in that same season, the son of Cheltenham Festival winning trainer Pat Kelly, had gained great plaudits for his remarkable winning ride aboard the same horse, when he won a Wetherby handicap chase despite losing his irons and whip.

Kelly, who also rode 11 winners over jumps in Ireland, certainly made a good start to his training career here at his local fixture in Loughrea.

Tuff McCool had become his first runner that the Craughwell-based handler sent out when he ran in the five and six-year-old geldings’ maiden on the card, before eventually pulling up before the final fence under Eoin Mahon.

Kelly had better luck with his second runner on the card, Captain Jimmy, as the newcomer sprung something of a mild surprise when he won the six-year-old and upwards geldings’ maiden for novice riders under 17-year-old rider James Duggan.

“I was in England for eight years, but I broke my back about a year and a half ago, so I can’t race ride anymore.

“Obviously, Dad trains a bit, and the owner, Declan Cunningham from Barna has been very good to me. I used to ride a lot for him when I started off, and he has given me a few point-to-pointers to get me going and I am very thankful to him,” said Kelly following the success.

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