Kennedy tri­umphs af­ter the great­est of es­capes

Ir­ish jockey com­pletes ac­ro­batic re­cov­ery I was too em­bar­rassed to fall off, teenager says

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Racing - By Mar­cus Army­tage RAC­ING COR­RE­SPON­DENT

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.

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