Walsh set to make dramatic return at Listowel

RUBY WALSH is set to make a dramatic return to racing at the Listowel festival, which starts this coming Sunday.

He has been out of action since taking a fall off Friendly Society at the first hurdle in a handicap at Killarney on July 12.

Walsh was subsequently able to walk back to the weigh-room, but tests the following morning at Cork University Hospital revealed he had fractured two vertebrae in his neck and was going to have to endure yet another long spell on the sidelines.

Last week he was less than optimistic about returning in time for the final festival of the year, but is now raring to go.

Said Walsh: “I’ve been passed fit and have been riding out for the last ten days or so. I was at Willie Mullins’ yesterday, also on Tuesday, as well as the previous Thursday.

“I’m not sure just how busy I will be at Listowel, but if I can get a ride then will definitely be there on Sunday.

“I’m delighted to be coming back and am now very much looking forward to the meeting. The plan, given that I have luck on my side, is to be at Listowel every day.”

Wednesday, of course, is the major attraction with the Guinness Kerry National, worth almost 100,000 to the winner, as the feature and Walsh is set to team up with one of Mullins’ four possibilities.

They are top weight, Scotsirish, the Galway Plate heroine, Blazing Tempo, Uncle Junior or Tawaagg.

Walsh’s presence will be a big boost to Listowel, which runs from Sunday to the following Saturday.

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) yesterday announced that the allowance received by mares in all National Hunt races, including Black Type events, will be increased by two pounds, from 5lb to 7lb, with effect from Tuesday, October 4.

The decision to move to a 7lb mares’ allowance was approved by the HRI programmes committee, after consultation with the National Hunt handicappers, the HRI National Hunt pattern committee and the stewards of the INHS Committee.

It followed an analysis of the ratings files and the performance of mares in all race types for 2010, which revealed that mares significantly underperformed in weight-for-age chases, hurdle races and bumpers when compared to the flat.

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