Willie Mullins makes history with Djakadam

Willie Mullins created history at Gowran Park yesterday when becoming the first trainer in history to win Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase for a sixth time.

Willie Mullins makes history with Djakadam

His Djakadam defied top weight with a quite brilliant display, never giving Ruby/Mullins the slightest cause for concern.

Mullins had been level with the legendary Tom Dreaper and was immediately moved to say: “It is very nice to make history and to be mentioned in the same context as Tom Dreaper. I am very lucky to have people to back me.’’

Thick fog was a real spoilsport through the afternoon and it was particularly bad for this contest.

A mobile camera crew did sterling work, but there were times when what was happening was a real mystery.

“I know it was a pain for the people watching, they couldn’t see the race, but it was very enjoyable from where I was,” Walsh said.

From what we could see, Djakadam, rested since disappointing in the Hennessy at Newbury in November, was always travelling well within himself.

Early in the straight this had developed into a match, but from before the final fence it was obvious Djakadam clearly had the measure of a gallant The Job Is Right.

The latter was a couple of lengths down jumping the last, with the runner-up spot guaranteed, but crashed into the obstacle, giving Mark Enright no chance of keeping the partnership intact.

For Walsh, rather amazingly, it was a first ever success in Gowran’s traditional highlight of the year.

Mullins said: “I’m delighted Ruby has broken his duck for me. We thought he (Djakadam) was very well handicapped and he showed that.

“The Hennessy didn’t work out, but at least it worked out today. My first thought is that he will now go for the Gold Cup.

“It is great to win this race again, it took me long enough to win my first one.

“It was some performance to do that under top weight, I have always felt he might be a Gold Cup horse.

“I don’t think he will run again before Cheltenham, that will have taken a fair bit out of him.’’

A year ago Mullins won the Thyestes with On His Own and that horse went on to finish a short head second behind Lord Windermere in the Gold Cup.

Reflecting on his failure to ride any of Mullins’ previous five winners of the contest, Walsh said: “I was broken up for most of them, although there was a year when I did pick the wrong one.

“I am delighted to win it, this is a very prestigious race. He jumped and travelled super and was hacking all of the way. We went a proper gallop and it was some performance by a six-year-old.’’

Walsh’s father, Ted, of course, trained the winner of the Thyestes, Roc De Prince, back in 1991.

The Grade 2 John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle produced a terrific battle between eventual winner, Tony Martin’s Dedigout, and Noel Meade’s Monksland.

Meade’s charge got to the front over the final flight and was about a length clear of his rival half way up the run in.

But Bryan Cooper conjured a magnificent late burst from his partner and Dedigout got up on the line to win by a short head.

Martin said: “He’s a very good horse, but cracked his knee in the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse.

“It took him 12 months to come back and he ran a lovely race at Christmas

(Leopardstown).

“The run brought him on enough to do himself justice today.

“When you have horses like him it is day by day. He will only go to Cheltenham if the ground is soft, we will see how he is.’’

Cooper said: “He missed the second last and wasn’t good at the last, but is tough and battled well.’’

Willie Mullins’ day began well when French-import Dicosimo, despite some sloppy leaps, justified favouritism in the Nugent Spirit 25 Horsebox Hurdle.

He made most of the running for Ruby Walsh, but was joined coming away from the second last by Prussian Eagle.

Dicosimo found plenty for pressure, however, and put the contest to bed in a few strides, scoring by seven and a half lengths.

“It was a good performance,’’ remarked Mullins. “He made at least three mistakes, but will gallop and jump all day.

“I think he will improve from here and I will aim him at the Triumph Hurdle (at Cheltenham).’’

Stone Hard rounded off Mullins’ day in style when taking the Bumper by 14 lengths, after his son, Patrick, had allowed him to stride on with half a mile to go.

He will now join the Mullins team for the Cheltenham bumper.

Mullins suffered a minor setback when long odds-on Royal Caviar proved no match for John Joe Walsh’s Cliff House in the Langton House Hotel Maiden Hurdle.

Royal Caviar pulled too hard for his own good and it certainly cost him when push came to shove.

He did shape as the likely winner off the home turn, but Cliff House was soon challenging and proved far too strong from the final flight.

Walsh said: “He has a lot to learn about jumping and would prefer nicer ground. There are no plans, I will go home and think about it.’’

Jonathan Burke rode the 60th winner of his career, he has now lost the right to claim, when guiding Henry de Bromhead’s Smashing to a facile victory in the PMF Accountants’ Beginners Chase.

The grey made most of the running and it was bar a fall from a long way out.

De Bromhead said: “He jumped great and I’m delighted. He’s entered in the Arkle at Cheltenham, so we will see. If he does go to Cheltenham, he won’t run again before then.’

The impressive Luke Dempsey was seen to good effect when driving Paul Nolan’s Dick Dundee to victory in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle.

The winner had a real duel with Maguire’s Glen on the run in, just getting the best of the battle in the dying strides.

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox