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Walhaan refuses to yield in Foxrock

Grey-horse Walhaan clears the final flightGrey-horse Walhaan clears the final flight
© Photo Healy Racing

Walhaan was tough off the front in repelling the odds-on favourite Horantzau D'airy in the opening maiden hurdle at Leopardstown.

The grey Dark Angel gelding raced nicely clear, but his advantage was whittled down to a length by a tussling Horantzau D'airy, Quirke's Gate and I Am Fortunata turning for home in this two miler.

Quirke's Gate became the meat in the sandwich among the pursuers and found himself with no room in fourth approaching the last.

Walhaan jumped it and came under a drive from Eoin Walsh with the pair appearing vulnerable to Horantzau D'airy who delivered his challenge under Paul Townend on the run-in.

Walhaan availed of the far rail. though, and found plenty for Walsh as Horantzau D'airy failed to get on terms with him. The 12/1 shot kept up the gallop to pass the post three parts of a length in front of the 5/6 favourite.

The gambled-on Star Harbour (33/1 - 16/1) brought home the each-way money for his backers in a keeping-on third, some four and a half lengths behind the runner-up.

This was Walhaan's third outing over flights having finished fourth in both Fairyhouse and Navan, but much closer on the second occasion. He was a long-standing maiden on the Flat.

Ciaran Murphy said: “It didn't go right for him in Navan the last day, but Eoin gave him a no-nonsense ride today, he was very good on him.

“We felt he had improved at home and we had this race pinpointed after Navan. A flat track on nice ground is really his thing.

“In fairness, he was going away at the line, from the second, and he's improving away. He's really starting to get the hang of hurdling now.

“We think there is a nice race on the Flat in him as well. We might mix and match or we might just stay hurdling and then go to the Flat later in the season.

“It's important he won for the lads (Ask Dot Syndicate) as they are good supporters of the yard, it's lovely to have a winner for them.”

The Raceday Stewards enquired into an incident on the run to the final hurdle involving Horantzau D'airy (FR), ridden by P. Townend, placed second, I Am Fortunata, ridden by D.N. Russell, placed fourth, and Quirke's Gate (GB), ridden by M.J.M O'Sullivan, placed fifth, where it appeared that Quirke's Gate (GB) met with interference when racing between horses. Evidence was heard from the riders concerned. In his evidence, M.J.M. O'Sullivan stated that he received pressure from I Am Fortunata on his outside on the approach to the final hurdle at the same time as Horantzau D'airy (Fr) was making an outward manoeuvre from the running rail to deliver his challenge. He added that his mount was unable to hold his position at that time. P. Townend stated that he had plenty of room when manoeuvring out to make his challenge as Quirke's Gate (GB) was coming back. He added that he got a bump from Quirke's Gate (GB) when in the gap. D.N. Russell stated that he had been pushed out off the final bend from being one horse off the rails to being three horses off the rails and he rode to keep his racing line. Having viewed the recording of the race and considered the evidence, the Raceday Stewards found D.N. Russell was in breach of Rule 214 in that he had ridden carelessly. Having considered his record in this regard, the Raceday Stewards suspended D.N. Russell for three racedays.

Additional reporting by Gary Carson

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About Michael Graham
Michael has worked in horse racing journalism for more than 15 years, having also written a weekly betting column on Gaelic football and hurling for a newspaper. He is involved in writing the My Racing Story features on this website. He spent a year in South Africa completing a Diploma in Business Administration and also studied Newspaper Journalism in Belfast. He enjoys playing 5-a-side football on a regular basis.