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Historic Kerry National win for Walsh on Your Busy

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Katie Walsh celebrates with her father Ted after taking victory on Your Busy at the Guinness Kerry National at Listowel. Photo: HEALY RACING

Katie Walsh celebrates with her father Ted after taking victory on Your Busy at the Guinness Kerry National at Listowel. Photo: HEALY RACING

Katie Walsh celebrates with her father Ted after taking victory on Your Busy at the Guinness Kerry National at Listowel. Photo: HEALY RACING

Katie Walsh stole the show with a tenacious front-running steer aboard Your Busy to became the first female rider to win the Guinness Kerry National in the prestigious Listowel feature's 69-year history.

Walsh performed heroics to keep the partnership intact when her 11-year-old mount blundered at the first fence. However, they had regained the lead from Casey Top by the time they passed the winning post for a first time.

Your Busy was never headed thereafter, although Pass The Hat threw down the gauntlet all the way up the straight. He and David Casey were eventually repelled to the tune of half-a-length by the brave victor after an absorbing joust to the line.

A 25/1 shot that could legitimately be described as unconsidered as it only made the cut as first reserve when Golden Wonder was scratched in the morning, Your Busy was supplying small-scale Curragh handler James Nash with the biggest success of his training career in his own silks in the €160,000 showpiece.

Remarkably, it was the third year in a row that a reserve won the race. Nash is a lifelong friend of Ruby Walsh, and the third amigo of their triumvirate is David Casey, who had partnered Your Busy in eight of its last nine starts and 17 times in all. This time, one man's loss proved to be a woman's gain.

Walsh's sister got the nod to wait in the wings when Casey opted for Pass The Hat, and the excellent 29-year-old ended the day emulating her brother, a four-time Kerry National winner.

"Thank God he got it in, because there was nothing else for him and he was flying at home," an ecstatic Nash said of Your Busy, which was owned until last year by another of Walsh's buddies, rugby legend Ronan O'Gara.

"He made a bad mistake at the first, but I thought he got an easy time of it out in front after that and he had a nice low weight. Every win is important but this means a lot, because he is a horse that has been in our yard since we started training and Katie has been riding for us since she was a seven-pound claimer.

"He won the Killarney National in May and now he is after winning this, so I suppose it will be the Munster National next!" Walsh (left), the fourth amateur rider to win the race, echoed Nash's sentiments.

"It is great riding big winners for Willie Mullins and for Dad," she beamed, "but after them it is fantastic to ride one for James. It is unbelievable. I thought it was all over at the first, but the winning of the race was getting back in front soon after and then he winged the last two fences. I asked him up and he didn't let me down."

Charles Byrnes' Shanpallas, gambled from 12/1 into 7/2 favouritism, took third, with the AP McCoy-ridden top-weight Alderwood in fourth.

Earlier, Tom Madden brought Byrnes' Mahrajaan (7/1) with a late surge to foil the trail-blazing Shadagann in the 12-furlong handicap. It proved a dramatic finale for this versatile 11-year-old, as Byrnes revealed that he would now be retired.

McCoy landed a much-needed blow for favourite-backers when taking the maiden hurdle on JP McManus' Aidan O'Brien-trained Egyptian Warrior at odds of 15/8. That completed a quick double for the champion owner, after Michael Hourigan's Hash Brown (2/1) had knuckled down to take the novices' hurdle under Barry Geraghty, having only being transferred into McManus' ownership earlier in the day.

The well-backed Nasution had also brought punters some respite in the opening juvenile maiden, the previous 12 market leaders having been turned over at the riverside venue. A 7/2 shot in the morning, David Wachman's grey returned an SP of 6/4.

Nasution responded to Wayne Lordan's urgings with a timely burst to foil market rival Cape Wolfe be less than a length at the death.

"He is very raw and is still a very slow learner," Wachman said of Lordan's second winner of the week. "Wayne was very good on him."

Normal Listowel service resumed in the next, as the recently gelded and friendless Abushamah (8/1) made most of the running to claim the seven-furlong handicap for Kevin Prendergast and Chris Hayes.

Tarana was a beaten 6/4 favourite in the Listed 12-furlong race, although the market moves were significant. John Oxx's filly was a big drifter before the off, while Vintage Nouveau had been popular all morning.

Dermot Weld's Moyglare Stud-owned filly justified being backed from 4/1 into 3/1 by repelling Tarana by half-a-length under Pat Smullen. "That black type is important for her pedigree," Smullen said after his 97th win of the season.

Pedigree was also to the fore in the bumper, as Kate Harrington landed another touch for the girls, driving her mother Jessica's 40/1 shot Sandymount Duke to victory over the favourite Deputy's Pass. It was that kind of day.

Irish Independent