independent

Friday 25 April 2014

Walsh defies broken nose to join Russell at the top of jockeys' table

IT proved an up-and-down day at Punchestown for Ruby Walsh but despite being in the wars, he still managed to draw level with Davy Russell at the head of the jockeys' championship.

The afternoon began badly for Walsh when he suffered a suspected broken nose after parting company with the Willie Mullins-trained Andiamos on the way to the start of the opening maiden hurdle. Walsh's fortunes didn't improve in the next race, the conditions hurdle, as his mount Apt Approach – a Grade Two winner over fences – suffered a fatal fall four hurdles from home.

With the 6/4 favourite out of the contest, Dressedtothenines galloped clear for an 11-length victory for Eddie Harty and Niall Madden.

Despite nursing a bloodied nose, former champion jockey Walsh made all the running to take the Festival Party Pack From 19 Maiden Hurdle with Mullins' exciting French recruit Un De Sceaux. The 9/10 shot raced enthusiastically, jumped neatly and displayed a smart change of gear to defeat Sammy Black by six lengths.

After Walsh and Andiamos were withdrawn from the opener, it looked to increase the chances of his father Ted's Foxrock, but the odds-on market leader could only finish third behind Colin Bowe's consistent Kashline, which edged out Fergiethelegend.

Upset

There was another upset in the mares' maiden hurdle as the Dessie Hughes-trained 20/1 outsider Claudia Augusta held off the challenge of 50/1 long-shot Tudor Fashion under Mark Enright.

The woe continued for punters in the concluding bumper as David Mullins, son of trainer Tom, rode his first winner by guiding Dick Donohoe's 33/1 shot Rathvawn Belle to a three-length success.

But there was disappointment for another family dynasty as Aidan O'Brien's first National Hunt runners in over eight years failed to land a blow in the four-year-old bumper. The Ballydoyle maestro saddled two runners in the Punchestown bumper, with Egyptian Warrior (3/1) a particularly fascinating contender due to him being a full-brother to Epsom Derby favourite Kingsbarns.

Although he made some headway from the back of the field in the hands of the trainer's daughter, Sarah, he was ultimately well beaten in fifth. Stable companion Shield ran a more encouraging race, but eventually passed the post one place ahead.

The race was won by a horse trained by a former O'Brien employee, Garrett Power, who watched his 20/1 outsider Yes Sir Brian take the spoils under Derek O'Connor.

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