A jockey was left shaken after his horse smashed into the wing of the final jump in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival. Mark Walsh was sent hurtling through the giant fence while riding Corbetts Cross, who failed to make the last hurdle despite having fought for the lead for the duration of the contest until the incident took place.
Both horse and jockey managed to climb to their feet in the aftermath of the crash, although Walsh looked shaken and appeared to be holding his left arm as he walked away from the scene. ITV host Ed Chamberlin went on to express his concern for Walsh, who has only just returned from an injury, by insisting that the rider ‘didn’t look great’ after coming off the back of Corbetts Cross at high speed.
Walsh was intially supposed to be racing again just 40 minutes later in the prestigious Gold Cup event at Cheltenham but was ultimately forced to miss out due to his involvement in the crash. Two-time Gold Cup winner Ruby Walsh went on to accuse the jockey of causing the accident by tapping on the horse’s left side with the whip, which he said caused it to veer right into the fence.
“He should have had his whip in the other hand, because you’re giving the horse the opportunity,” he explained in his role as a pundit on ITV. “As a rider, you have to remove that opportunity and unfortunately he didn’t.”
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Punters who backed the JP McManus-owned Corbetts Cross will be kicking themselves after the horse’s dramatic exit with only a few metres to go in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, the final event before the Gold Cup at Cheltenham. He looked to have been tanking into contention approaching the last as market rival Three Card Brag lost ground late on, with Stay Away Fay eventually going on to claim the spoils.
The latter won as an 18/1 outsider ahead of Affordale Fury, who came in second at a whopping 150/1, while Sandor Clegane followed in third at 28/1. Corbetts Cross went in among the favourites at 11/4 but his late crash meant that he failed to place, leaving his backers empty-handed.
Harry Cobden, the winning jockey, said after the race: “I could hear what happened behind me. My horse is very inexperienced, he’s very green but he got his head down. This horse stays forever. Great for the boss.”
Winning trainer Paul Nicholls added: “He looks fantastic, he ran how he looked. He jumped really well. There’s lots of improvement to come from him. Having had two winners now I am dead relaxed. It makes such a difference.”
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