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Flanagan makes a winning return at Leopardstown


Sean Flanagan made the perfect return from injury when partnering Watch House Cross to land the opening race of the Christmas Festival meeting, the Leopardstown Maiden Hurdle.

The Wexford native fractured vertebrae in a fall on Noel Meade’s schooling grounds just last month but made a swift return to action after just over six weeks on the sidelines.

State Man was all the rage at 8/13 for this two-mile event but fell when set to mount a challenge at the second last and three horses were virtually in the air together at the final flight.

The Henry de Bromhead-trained Watch House Cross proved the stronger on the run-in to score at odds of 12/1, with Flaming Moon and Whatsavailable filling the minor places.

Flanagan said, “He’s a really nice horse and they were a bit worried that he was keen in his work at home but he settled in there beautifully.

“I think the slower ground has helped him and probably up in trip in time. He’s done what he was asked really well.

When asked about his rapid recovery from a serious back injury he added, “The first couple of weeks I was doing everything the doctors were asking me to do in the sense that I was to do very little.

“Dr (John) Kenny then gave me the green light to do some physio and I was doing that every day and it’s come back really quickly.

“I feel great. I’m a bit out of breath after that but it’s great to come back with a winner.”

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