Racing: Ruby Walsh targets Punchestown

Ruby Walsh: Injuries healing well. Picture: Getty
Ruby Walsh: Injuries healing well. Picture: Getty
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Ruby Walsh expects to be back riding in time for the Punchestown Festival later this month after receiving a positive update from his specialist.

Walsh dislocated his shoulder and fractured the top of his humerus after suffering a bad fall from Abbyssial in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. It looked likely he would miss the rest of the campaign.

However, he attended the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry on Monday and, with his injuries healing faster than expected, Walsh is confident he will be back in the saddle for the opening day of Punchestown on Tuesday, 29 April.

Jennifer Walsh, the rider’s sister and agent, said: “The specialist was happy when he went to see him on Monday and hopefully he’ll be back for Punchestown. We haven’t made any definite plans regarding when he’ll be back, but hopefully he’ll be back riding out in a fortnight and we’ll go from there.”

It is no surprise Walsh is keen to get back for Ireland’s showpiece National Hunt Festival given his possible rides could include the likes of Vautour, Faugheen, Quevega, Hurricane Fly and Champagne Fever. He told the Irish Examiner: “I’d imagine I will be riding at Punchestown. I got on very well (at Santry) and am making great progress. My humerus is healing well and the shoulder is very stable. If I keep progressing, I would expect to be sitting on a horse in two weeks’ time.

“The plan now is to continue with physio and gym work. I had an hour and a half of physio and conditioning today. I can safely say that if I had ridden ten lots in the morning, I would not have been blowing as hard or felt as bad afterwards.”

Walsh revealed he plans to continue riding until the French Champion Hurdle at Auteuil in June, after which an operation will then be necessary.

There were big-price winners at Pontefract yesterday, including Champagne Rules who defied odds of 100-1 under Paddy Aspell in the High-Rise Maiden Stakes.

Soft ground appeared to get the better of Munaaser, who arrived boasting some fancy entries in the Dante and the Derby for Sir Michael Stoute, but Sharon Watt’s charge relished the conditions underfoot. Bill Watt, husband of the trainer, said: “We are over the moon. I just cannot believe it.”

An top ride from last season’s champion apprentice jockey Jason Hart saw Surprise Vendor (20-1) make all in the Jamaican Flight Handicap for Selkirk-based trainer Stuart Coltherd.