King finally gets O'Connor off mark after miraculous return
Matt O'Connor rode his first winner since returning to the saddle following a life-threatening injury at Fairyhouse yesterday.
O'Connor made a miraculous recovery after sustaining head injuries at Thurles last March. He spent weeks in intensive care yet was back in action in October. And his fairytale return was complete with victory on Kimberlite King in the beginners chase. The 4/5 favourite, trained by Colm Murphy, beat Errit Lake by five lengths.
"I'm 110pc relieved to have finally had a winner again -- I must have had 10 seconds since my return and I came here today wondering which horse would beat us," said O'Connor.
"It was very tough getting back into the swing of race-riding again when I returned and it was only after Christmas that I began to feel right . I have to thank my family, the people who helped my recovery in Cork Hospital and Dun Laoghaire Rehabilitation Centre, Colm Murphy and the horse's owners who've stayed loyal to me."
Murphy said of the winner: "Heavy ground is the key to him and while we'll have to wait and see what the handicapper does, he probably isn't good enough to run in the better novice chases and may go handicapping now."
Ruby Walsh enjoyed a 16/1 double on Hellyhunter and The Corby Glenn. The Davy Fitzgerald-trained Hellyhunter won the opening maiden hurdle by 12 lengths while The Corby Glenn ran away with the Bobbyjo Bistro Handicap Chase for trainer Ray McGlinchy.
Willie Mullins' Bishopsfurze (8/11 favourite) earned a 16/1 quote for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham following his storming success in the Ladbrokes Cheltenham Bumper Series Flat Race under Paddy Mullins.