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Ruby Walsh: Shaneshill has more to prove than Djakadam ahead of the Cheltenham Festival

by Ruby Walsh | February 3, 2016

It was a big weekend of trials for a lot of our horses – Limini and Felix Yonger passed with flying colours but defeats for Djakadam, Shaneshill, Up For Review and Myska were disappointing.

Djakadam was a blow. At least you got a result with the others but falling when travelling well is always hard to take. A fall is a fall and it wouldn’t overly bother me but at least Don Cossack was able to get a winning run (Thurles)  in ahead of the Festival after his King George VI tumble.

There’s very little time left now for Djakadam to do that and he’ll just go straight there I’d imagine.

We’ll never know what could have happened but he was travelling well and I deliberately kept him out wide as the better ground was on the outside.It was a fairly simple fall on only his eighth run over fences. He didn’t get high enough in front, got too high behind and just crumpled on landing. 

Smad Place put himself into the Gold Cup reckoning with his win but he’ll definitely have to go a lot quicker up front if he’s to boss the lead in the Gold Cup.


The spare ride I picked up on Shantou Village was decent but he was no match for Yanworth who was very impressive in the Neptune Hurdle Trial.

The ground was plenty soft enough for both of them and while it’s a big ask for him to reverse the form with Alan King’s winner he would have a lively each-way chance in the Albert Bartlett if connections decided to step him up in trip to three miles. I could see both horses improving on better ground at the Festival.

World Hurdle favourite Thistlecrack put any notion that he doesn’t handle Cheltenham’s undulations to bed. He looks rock solid for the stayers crown and sets the standard.


It looks like two miles around Doncaster was far too sharp for Shaneshill and he now has bigger questions to answer than Djakadam.

Up for Review was definitely under par on the same card but nothing has come to light yet. The winner Barters Hill – while visually unimpressive – could turn out to be one of those horses it’s just very hard to get by. The Albert Bartlett looks tailor-made for Ben Pauling’s runner. On Saturday’s evidence the likes of Yanworth and a couple of others would have too much pace for him in the shorter Neptune Hurdle.

Limini was good at Fairyhouse on Saturday afternoon. Her jumping was a lot better than it was at Punchestown and she could probably improve again in the Mares novice race at the Festival.


Myska was coughing post-race on Sunday at Punchestown. She was beaten going to the fourth hurdle and was coughing afterwards so obviously had something on her. We’ll get her over that and go again.

Felix Yonger could be an each-way play for the Champions Chase – particularly as we think he’ll improve for better ground. He does have the option of a race in Japan also though so it’s not 100 per cent sure he’ll travel to the Festival.

He’s been winning on soft going and that isn’t his best ground by far. I’d give him a fair chance of filling the places at Cheltenham Festival once he gets out of deep winter ground.

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