No Bothar for Ruby as he lands Kerry National hat-trick

RUBY WALSH became the first jockey in history to ride the winner of the Guinness Kerry National three years in-a-row when guiding Bothar Na to a smooth success in the traditional feature of the Listowel Festival yesterday.

Walsh took the race twelve months ago on Euro Leader and the previous year on Banasan. The progressive seven-year-old now has another National firmly in his sights, the Aintree version, after producing a fine exhibition of jumping and staying power.

For trainer Willie Mullins it was a second Kerry National, to go with Euro Leader, and he admitted to being very pessimistic about his charge's prospects.

“That's a surprise”, exclaimed Mullins. “When I saw all the rain I thought our chance had gone. It is great to win, especially when you think you have no chance!”

Bothar Na was given a very positive drive by Walsh and was always near the front, as Commonchero cut out the running.

The champion made his move going to the fourth last, easing his sweet-moving partner into the lead.

Well-backed favourite Pearly Jack tried hard to get on terms in the straight and was close enough if good enough rising to the last.

But the canny Walsh had saved plenty and Bothar Na lengthened away on the level to score by a comfortable two lengths.

“He showed when he ran in the Foxhunters at Aintree that he can handle the fences and the National is now the plan”, confirmed Mullins.

“He's certainly done enough to merit an entry. Maybe, he is now maturing and just able to handle soft ground better.

“I don't think he will go to Limerick for the Munster National, it will probably come too soon, but the November Festival at Cheltenham is a possibility.” Boylesports gave him a 33-1 quote for Aintree.

Commented Walsh: “There was never a doubt, he bolted in.”

The only casualty of the contest was Chetwind Music, who broke a leg when falling at the second fence.

Owner Bill Durkan, fresh from his massive pay-day with Miss Beatrix at the Curragh on Tuesday, enjoyed a relatively minor success when his Mon Michel landed the Ladbrokes' Race.

The son of Montjeu, out of form of late, but guaranteed to handle the surface, was best for money in the ring.

It took him a while to wear down Keel Castle Maine, but Mon Michel was well on top in the closing stages for Chris Hayes to score by three lengths.

Hayes, from Shanagolden, Co Limerick, was piloting his 28th winner of the season and remarked: “I regard this as my local track.”

Dermot Weld's Man With A Plan won the Ballygarry House Hotel Median Auction Maiden and then survived a stewards' inquiry.

He was only seventh approaching the furlong pole, but found plenty for Pat Smullen pressure to sweep ahead close home.

When the Dr Fong gelding launched his challenge he tended to drift left, but Smulllen did his best, he had his whip in the correct hand (the left), and it was no real surprise when the result was allowed stand.

Weld completed a double when Bobs Pride, he was also partnered by Ruby Walsh, was far too good for the opposition in the Schering Plough Animal Health Veterinary Maiden Hurdle.

The frustrating Salt Lake edged ahead coming away from two out, but Bobs Pride clearly had him covered.

The winner led at the last and quickly stormed clear. Commented Walsh: “He did it well, you can't beat winter form.”

Tom Hogan holds the classy Kalderon in very high regard and hopes he will end up at Cheltenham next March.

The six-year-old, despite some indifferent jumping, toyed with his rivals in the Kerryman Maiden Hurdle.

David Casey was gazing round for non-existent dangers turning in and Kalderon was never out of second gear to beat Colonel Arthur an unflattering length and a quarter.

“He was very green and looking at his hurdles”, said Hogan. “He will jump better on better ground and will run next in a novice hurdle at Tipperary on October 1.”

Kahuna, who has broken the heart of many a punter, followed up his victory at Ballinrobe by making a lot of the running in the Seamus Mulvaney Handicap Chase.

Paul Carberry had him scampering away from this field from four out, but in the end was screaming for the post, holding on by a length from Mango Catcher.

Tim Doyle's Lucky Lynsey got into the Tom Browne Memorial Handciap as first reserve and proceeded to do the business.

Rider, Michael Hussey, put up a pound overweight, but it made no difference as the four-year-old powered through late to just get the better of fast-finishing Crooked Throw by a short head.

The Liz Doyle-trained and ridden The Hoodoo Remains got to the front two furlongs out and came wide up the straight to take the Bumper.

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