Kennedy triumphs after the greatest of escapes
Irish jockey completes acrobatic recovery I was too embarrassed to fall off, teenager says
Jack Kennedy, one of Ireland’s brightest young riding talents, made an acrobatic, bordering on miraculous, recovery on his mount in the two-mile beginners’ chase at Clonmel yesterday – and still managed to win the race.
Once a week, a jockey somewhere makes a recovery which seemingly defies gravity, but they rarely get back up to win.
Kennedy, 18, needed all his core strength, balance and luck to return to the saddle after Robin des Mana came a bit too close to the fourth fence at the County Tipperary track. At 30mph, Robin des Mana bumped Kennedy up the backside, firing him out of what jockeys colloquially call the “side-door”.
Robin des Mana, unbalanced by the aerial acrobatics, did not help matters by swerving violently right before hitting the rail. He then bounced back off that to his left as Kennedy first clung on round the neck before pulling himself back on top, albeit equally precariously, with both arms one side of the horse and both legs the other.
The whole episode must have cost Robin des Mana half a dozen lengths but, two fences later, he was going well again and disputing the lead. He went on to win by half a length.
“He got in underneath the fence,” explained the modest jockey, “and didn’t make much of a mistake. I shouldn’t have got myself in that position and, to be honest, I’d have been embarrassed if I’d fallen off.
“I didn’t fancy being galloped on, so I did my best to stay on. If the rail hadn’t been there, I’d have been gone. After all that, I thought he was going to get beat up the run-in but he pulled out a bit more. He’s a grand horse, he’s been knocking on the door for a while, so it’s good to get him off the mark over fences.”
Kennedy has form in acrobatic escapes. In January, he made an equally impressive recovery on Bilko, who pitched on his nose at the first hurdle at Thurles but was subsequently pulled up.
Kennedy rode his first Cheltenham Festival winner on Labaik in the Supreme Novice Hurdle for his boss Gordon Elliott last season, and is almost de facto first jockey to the all-powerful Gigginstown string, belonging to Michael O’leary.
Meanwhile Douvan, widely expected to make his comeback from injury in tomorrow’s Tingle Creek at Sandown, will not be running anywhere this weekend after Willie Mullins was not entirely happy with him yesterday morning.
The chaser, unbeaten until sustaining a pelvis injury in last season’s Champion Chase, worked well at the Curragh on Tuesday. “Maybe he hadn’t fully recovered from Tuesday,” said Mullins, who hopes to have him back at Christmas.