Walsh's bad break opens Kauto door for McCoy
TONY McCoy is odds-on with bookmakers to ride Kauto Star in the King George at Kempton following the horrific fall at Down Royal on Saturday which left Ruby Walsh nursing a broken right leg.
McCoy is the obvious choice to replace Walsh. Kauto Star owner Clive Smith has called on him in the past and JP McManus, who retains the services of the 15-times champion, has no likely contender for him to ride in the mid-season championship.
Paddy Power make McCoy 1/4 to get the ride, with Barry Geraghty next best at 4/1. Walsh -- who only returned to action in August after fracturing his arm in three places in a crashing fall from Celestial Halo at Aintree in April -- suffered his injury when the Tony Martin-trained Corrick Bridge took a somersaulting fall in a handicap chase.
The 31-year-old's discomfort was instant and subsequent X-rays at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast revealed that he had broken his tibia and fibula.
Walsh's accident followed fast on the heels of Kauto Star's reappearance success in the JNwine.com Champion Chase on the same card. The dual Gold Cup winner jumped flawlessly and beat Sizing Europe by four lengths. He later completed a double aboard the Paul Nicholls-trained The Nightingale in the Grade Two Ladbroke.com Chase.
Walsh remains in the Royal Victoria Hospital following surgery and faces a long spell on the sidelines -- possibly until late January -- after his tumble in the Rainbow Telecom Handicap Chase.
"He's out of surgery. They're happy with the way it went and he's doing well," said Ruby's sister and agent Jennifer. "I haven't a clue how long he'll be out for."
Kauto Star made it 14 Grade One career victories when outpacing Sizing Europe and China Rock in the Down Royal feature and has hardened further as ante-post favourite for the Kempton feature on St Stephen's Day.
"It was just the start we wanted, he jumped great which is just what we wanted him to do and we can go on from here," said Nicholls. "If he's back fresh and well and cantering he might go to the Hennessy, but if I find he's a bit quiet and I need to give him a couple of weeks off, he won't go for the Hennessy."
While Smith insisted yesterday that the Hennessy Gold Cup remains a possibility for his star performer, he chances of Kauto Star running at Newbury look slim and it is odds-on that the 10-year-old will head to Kempton without another run.
"We'll see how he recovers from the race in the next four or five days and he'll tell us," said the owner. "The King George is the absolute No 1 priority and maybe that's where we will go next, but we'll see. We don't have to worry about making a decision on the Hennessy yet.
"It's very sad what's happened to Ruby -- it's very difficult but I've not discussed it with Paul yet. I've got to go down later in the week and we'll have a chat about everything."
As for Sizing Europe, Henry de Bromhead says that the Down Royal runner-up is likely to stick to three miles for the rest of the season.
The King George and the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown are the possible next options for last season's Irish Independent Arkle Trophy winner, according to the Waterford trainer.
"He seems in good form -- he trotted out today, everything seems fine," said De Bromhead yesterday. "We were absolutely delighted. We thought he ran a blinder. He seemed to stay the three miles there by the looks of that. We'd be hoping for a little more improvement as well, so we're very happy.
"I'm not sure where we will see him next. I'd say hopefully it will be Christmas in either the King George or the Lexus. We'll see and I'll discuss it with Alan (Potts, owner) and see how we go. We'll probably stick to that kind of distance for the moment anyway."
Walsh wasn't the only jockey in the wars over the weekend. Thankfully for colleagues Paul Carberry, currently leading the Irish table, and young Bryan Cooper, the leg injuries which they picked up in a first-race melee at Navan yesterday don't appear serious, even if Carberry will be going to hospital for an X-ray today.