Sport Horse Racing

Friday 23 March 2018

Ruby Walsh comes a cropper as Kilmainham springs surprise

KILMAINHAM sprang a 20-1 surprise in the opening race at Thurles after Ruby Walsh was unseated at the final flight aboard the odds-on favourite Djakadam.

Everything appeared to be going to plan for the 30-100 favourite, with Walsh sat in he box seat throughout on Willie Mullins' French import.

He was a couple of lengths clear approaching the last and met it on a long stride.

Djakadam appeared to jump it well but stumbled soon after landing and fired Walsh up his neck.

The jockey tried to cling on but exited a few strides later, getting a kicking into the bargain.

This allowed the Francis Flood-trained Kilmainham to come through under Mark Walsh and win the Maiden Hurdle by six and a half lengths.

"He disappointed at Leopardstown but had run OK in a few maiden hurdles - he'll go the handicapping route now," said Flood.

Mikael D'Haguenet registered just his second victory over fences in Ireland and quickly got Walsh and Mullins back on the scoreboard in the WT O´Grady Memorial EBF Novice Chase.

The nine-year-old looked destined for the very top as a novice hurdler, but his career has stalled ever since he missed a season with injury.

That the engine remains is not in doubt, but he has found all manner or ways to get beaten over fences and suffered a heavy fall last time out at Limerick.

There were no alarms this time as Walsh guided the 1-2 favourite to a 12-length success.

"He did it well, he had the race in th bag going down to the last," said Walsh.

"He has a big engine but he's had enough falls, I'd say.

"He's still got a lot of ability, a huge amount."

Mullins said: "Phew, there was better luck there.

"We'll try and keep him to that sort of trip now (two and a half miles).

"The Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse at Easter is a likely target.

"He'll be entered for all those races at Cheltenham but whether or not he goes is another day's work.

"He is a course winner at Cheltenham so we might have a run before then to make up our minds."

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