Rooneys quit jump racing to concentrate on the Flat

Owners Paul and Clare Rooney have decided to end their interests in UK jump racing and concentrate on the Flat, ending a somewhat turbulent relationship with the sport in recent years.

The couple – who have enjoyed jumps success with the likes of Willoughby Court, winner in the 2017 Neptune (now Ballymore) Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham, and 2016 Grand National runner-up The Last Samuri – will put their jumpers up for sale.

As well as success there was some controversy, including the couple instructing their trainers in late 2018 not to make any further entries at Cheltenham due to perceived safety issues there, although they later changed their minds following consultations with management at the track.

Commenting on the switch, the Rooneys' racing manager Jason Maguire said: “It wasn't totally out of the blue – they've obviously had a think about it and decided just to concentrate on Flat horses.

"They've had good times with jumps horses but they've also enjoyed good times on the Flat too, starting with My Dream Boat winning the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2016, and they have just decided to concentrate their energies on Flat racing.”

He added: “The Flat horses have been doing well for them in recent years. Good Vibes is a nice filly who won the Cornwallis Stakes last year for David Evans. Crack On Crack On was a good horse who went on to Hong Kong, Alright Sunshine has done very well for them, and there was also the filly I'll Have Another who they had with Mark Johnston and was sold as a broodmare.”

Another successful jumps horse for the Rooneys is high-class staying hurdler If The Cap Fits, and trainer Harry Fry reported to The Guardian on Tuesday that the 2019 Grade 1 Stayers Hurdle winner at Aintree had already been bought by another owner in his yard. Buyers had also been found for promising young prospects Get In The Queue and Winningseverything, he said.

Despite the absence of racing at the moment and the possibility of a jumps hiatus even when racing does resume, Maguire does not envisage any difficulty selling the string. He said: “Hopefully the racing situation sorts itself out, and they are good horses they will be selling.

"They will be giving trainers time to get them away and get them sold, and hopefully the trainers will be able to hang on to them, we will be trying to do right by them.”

He added: “It should be an exciting time and we will be putting all of our energies into continuing success with Flat horses.”