sport

Walsh operation a success

Jockey Ruby Walsh is reported in good spirits after having undergone surgery on a broken arm on Friday.

Walsh will be sidelined for at least two months after he took a crashing fall on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival.

The rider sustained a compound fracture of his right humerus, the bone in the upper arm, after parting company with Abbyssial in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

Dr Adrian McGoldrick, Irish Turf Club senior medical officer, said: "Ruby is good, relatively speaking, of course.

"The operation went well, which is good news."

Walsh's sights are already fixed upon a return to action.

He said: "I knew the minute I hit the deck I was in serious trouble and it was no surprise that I had done plenty damage.

"What it actually amounts to is a dislocated shoulder and fracturing the humerus in my right arm.

"I was soon taken to hospital in Gloucester and obviously will face a spell on the sidelines.

"That's the way this game goes. I had gone a good while without injury and now have to accept my fate and make the best of it.

"I am far from disheartened, however, and have no doubt will dust myself down and go again in the not too distant future."

Walsh still had a fine Festival, with victories aboard Faugheen (Neptune), Vautour (Supreme) and Quevega, who claimed a record-breaking sixth consecutive triumph in the Mares' Hurdle.

The jockey is also relishing the prospect of riding Arkle runner-up Champagne Fever over a longer trip, with the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day already a long-term ambition.

He said: "I was absolutely delighted with Champagne Fever, even though he was only second in the Arkle Chase.

"Four days later, I am still trying to fathom how he managed to get beaten. Champagne did everything right, jumped beautifully, travelled strongly and I couldn't believe it when Tom Scudamore (rider of Western Warhorse) nailed us on the line.

"I'd imagine Willie (Mullins) will run him over two miles at Punchestown and then he will be stepped up in trip next season.

"He has always been viewed as a potential Gold Cup horse in Willie's yard and I very much see it that way as well.

"But I would also love to ride him in the King George at Kempton next Christmas. I just feel he has the ideal blend of speed and staying power for that test.

"Vautour jumped like a stag, travelled like a dream and ran away from his rivals in the straight.

"He is every inch a high-class chaser in the making and is just the type of horse you really love to have around the place.

"He really is the complete package

"Faugheen was equally good when winning the Neptune, although his jumping does have to improve.

"But, that said, it was better at Cheltenham than at home in Ireland. He has plenty to learn yet, but I've no doubt will do so with experience."

Walsh nonetheless suffered a couple of notable reverses as Hurricane Fly could finish only fourth in his defence of the Champion Hurdle, while the much-discussed Annie Power was second in the World Hurdle.

The rider told the Irish Examiner: "The disappointing performance of Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle puzzled me. He ran below par, to put it mildly.

"Hurricane travelled and jumped fine for much of the journey, but didn't stay on at all. That's what frustrated me about him and regard the display as out of character.

"Thinking about Annie Power, and her defeat in the World Hurdle, I have concluded the occasion simply got to the mare.

"Annie was far too keen and that was always going to have an effect on the way she saw out the three miles.

"If she had relaxed a lot more it would have been far better. I would then have been able to produce her for speed, instead of having to get involved in a dour battle with More Of That.

"Mind you, I am still of the opinion I should have tracked Barry Geraghty, rather than chasing AP (McCoy) on At Fishers Cross."