Djakadam booked his place in the Cheltenham Gold Cup with a classy weight-carrying performance under Ruby Walsh in yesterday’s Goffs Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park.
It was a historic success, as the French-bred helped Willie Mullins surpass his brilliant forefather Tom Dreaper with a record sixth triumph in the €100,000 handicap.
Incredibly, none of Mullins’ previous five were ridden by Walsh, so the peerless nine-time champion was enjoying a belated first win in the famous race.
Maybe most excitingly, though, no other winning horse in the 61-year history of the three-mile showpiece had been as young as six years old.
Even Dreaper’s equine colossus Arkle was seven when he won it in 1964 en route to the first of his three iconic victories in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Prior to this, Djakadam had run just four times over fences. He crashed four-out when still in contention in the JLT Novices’ Chase at last year’s Festival, but a thoroughly polished display in heavy ground here justified the champion trainer’s conviction that he was a well-handicapped horse.
“That’s why we went for the Hennessy first time out,” Mullins said of his 9/2 winner. “It didn’t work out there but it did here. We always thought he was a Gold Cup horse – On His Own won this last year and he was only beaten a short head in the Gold Cup.
“On His Own is probably still our leading Gold Cup contender, but the way this fellow travelled and jumped, he has to go down that road too, and he is a young horse that is coming on.”
Of his own little bit of history, Mullins said simply: “It’s nice to be even mentioned in the same breath as Tom Dreaper.”
On His Own was rated 142 when he won his second Thyestes, yet the Rich Ricci-owned Djakadam ran off 145 for a massive 11st 10lb here.
Despite visibility being poor thanks to a heavy fog that didn’t lift all day, he looked to be doing things easily for Walsh whenever he could be seen. The duo emerged from the gloom turning in with a share of the lead for a first time alongside The Job Is Right.
When that one hurled Mark Enright to the turf at the last, Djakadam was already gone away. He came home with eight lengths to spare of My Murphy, with another 19 back to Goonyella and the 3/1 favourite Gallant Oscar fourth. Just six of the 17 runners got around.
“He jumped like a stag and I was always taking him back at fences he was going so easy,” Walsh said of Djakadam. “He is going the right way.
“At least Willie made it easy for me this time – he only ran one so I couldn’t choose the wrong one! I remember my father (Ted) winning it with Roc De Prince in 1991, so it’s a race I’ve always wanted to win since.”
Djakadam was cut to as low as 14/1 from 33/1 for the sport’s blue riband event. Mullins completed an 11.5/1 treble when Gigginstown Stud’s Stone Hard (4/11) sluiced up in the bumper under his son Patrick to book his place on the Prestbury Park-bound boat.
Earlier, Ricci’s Dicosimo (4/6) took the four-year-olds’ hurdle with a likeable front-running turn on its Irish debut. “We had difficulties getting him here, but he should improve from here,” Mullins said of Dicosimo. “We’ll aim him at the Triumph Hurdle now.”