Walsh experiences joy of six on Trilogy

RUBY WALSH, without a doubt one of the greatest National Hunt jockeys who has ever lived, cemented the greatest week of his career when taking the Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle on American Trilogy at Cheltenham yesterday.

At the time it meant he had created history by becoming the first jockey to ride six winners at the Festival but, of course, that was quickly overtaken by subsequent events. American Trilogy, trained by Paul Nicholls, moved Walsh onto the magic six and he could hardly have scored more easily.

The grey came there absolutely running away approaching the last, landed in front and powered up the hill 11 lengths clear at odds of 20-1.

A delighted Walsh said: “Riding six winners here is something you never think you are going to do, but I am just a very lucky man to be able to ride for such people in Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls.

“They are champion trainers in their respective countries and it’s an honour to be able to ride for the two of them.”

Commented Nicholls: “All winter we have run this horse on the wrong ground and Ruby was confident he would run well if the ground was decent.”

Barry Geraghty may have lived a little in the shadow of Walsh this week, but he has nevertheless enjoyed a great meeting and the tough Zaynar was his third of the Festival in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

The grey made it three wins in as many runs with a typically gutsy display, under a powerful drive from the excellent Geraghty.

He drove Nicky Henderson’s charge ahead off the home turn and Zaynar was always holding the persistent challenge of heavily-backed favourite, Walkon, from the final flight.

“I thought Zaynar was my best chance of the week and it rode like a good race”, reported Geraghty.

“He’s very tough. When Oliver Brady’s horse ran out, I was left in front, which wasn’t ideal. But he was always just doing enough.

“My horse battled really well and I knew he’d stay. The cheekpieces helped him travel, but he’s dead genuine.”

Henderson revealed that the fitting of cheekpieces was on Geraghty’s recommendation. “They were Barry’s idea”, said Henderson.

“We put them on once at home and they help him through his races. Barry didn’t want to be in front, but gave the horse a positive ride.

“Zaynar may be short of natural pace, but is a good jumper. He has always threatened to do this, but we just didn’t know what would happen when he got into a battle. That’s it for the season, Aintree would not be his track.”

Ruby Walsh’s decision to change tactics on Mourad paid a rich dividend and Willie Mullins’ inmate stayed on doggedly to be the best of the Irish in third.

The major disappointment of the contest, of course, was the unfortunate ending of Oliver Brady’s dream.

His Ebadiyan made a lot of the running and was still bowling along merrily in front when running out at the second last.

Charles Byrnes, one the most talented trainers in Ireland, enjoyed his first Festival success when Davy Russell drove Weapon’s Amnesty to half a length victory over Walsh and Pride Of Dulcote in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.

“It’s my first and it is an unbelievable feeling to finally break my duck”, said Byrnes.

“I’ve been second in the race twice before and this is fantastic. He is an out-and-out stayer and, being by Presenting, was always going to appreciate better ground.

“I’d imagine he will jump a fence next season and, maybe, we will be back for the RSA Chase.

“He had the form and was working exceptionally well. He was just idling in front.”

Russell said: “I didn’t want to get there too early, but he’s slow and I couldn’t stop him.

“He wasn’t doing a stroke in front, but is a good horse. I was hoping Ruby would come to me sooner rather than later and that he would help me to the line.

“Charles has done a fantastic job with the horse, he is not the easiest to train. He’s big-framed and a chaser in the making.”

Russell was in no hurry and remained unmoved when Walsh edged on heading down to the second last.

Weapon’s Amnesty, carrying the colours of Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud, led at the final flight and found plenty on the flat to hold the renewed effort of the runner-up.

Cappa Bleu advertised his potential with a fine performance in the Christie’s Foxhunter Chase.

In a race widely regarded as the amateurs’ Gold Cup, the Sheila Crow-trained seven-year-old was sent off the 11-2 second-favourite after arriving unbeaten in point-to-points this season.

However, his participation was in some doubt in the days leading up to the race because of his failure to compete under Rules due to the adverse weather.

Ridden by Richard Burton, one of the most respected amateur jockeys on the British circuit, he was never far from the pace.

Turthen, under Charlotte Tizzard, emerged as a real threat at the last along with long-time leader Baby Run, but Cappa Bleu powered up the hill to win by 12 lengths.

Burton said: ``He's a very special horse. It was such a good effort and I'm a bit tired.

“He found plenty and stayed on well.”

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