O’Connor savours victory in the Irish Gold Cup (Racingfotos)By Racinguk.com staff
Big outsider Edwulf won a dramatic renewal of the Unibet Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown under amateur rider Derek O’Connor for Joseph O’Brien.
In what was a tremendous training performance – Edwulf nearly died at last season’s Cheltenham Festival – O’Brien has somehow managed to coax him back to his best.
There were plenty of thrills and spills during the race, with Killultagh Vic jumping the last in front only to sprawl on landing.
Anibale Fly also took a crashing fall, while Our Duke seemed to be back-pedalling when he made a mistake at the second-last. Valseur Lido never threatened either.
Thankfully, all horses returned unscathed.
Djakadam was prominent throughout but gave best on the run to the last where Outlander took over.
The Leopardstown specialist Outlander looked sure to add another Grade One but O’Connor had other ideas as 33-1 chance Edwulf got on top close home and won by a neck.
Edwulf puts in a fluent leap on his way to victory (Racingfotos)Djakadam ended up finishing third, another 10 lengths away.
“I’m exceptionally happy for the horse,” O’Connor said. “I never had a horse to do it . . . he ran himself into the ground at Cheltenham and thought his career was over – he’s back to his best. I was talking to Joseph beforehand and we were saying that if he could reproduce his best run he had a chance, and he did.”
O’Brien paid tribute to the vets who nursed the horse back from an injury sustained at Cheltenham last March.
“All the vets and everyone at home did a fantastic job on him,” he said. “And it was long road to get him back, so I can’t believe he’s after winning. Derek (O’Connor) is an unbelievable horseman, horses jump so well for him and he gets on great with Edwulf.
“We’ll see how he comes out of this first and we’ll think about Cheltenham then.
“It’s not too often you get a horse good enough to run in the Gold Cup so if he’s well, I’d imagine he might go there.”
O’Brien said several of the lads in his yard had placed small bets on the winner at 100-1 and McManus revealed he also had a minor interest at fancy odds.
Gordon Elliott, trainer of the brave runner up, said: “He ran his heart out and seems to like it here. We have to run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, where else would you go?”