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Pointers on Track

Fourth Festival success for O'Connor with Kim Muir victory

Derek O’Connor was on the receiving end of the plaudits as he guided Any Second Now to land the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup on day three of the Cheltenham Festival.

The record-breaking point-to-point rider had what looked the pick of the JP McManus-owned trio, with Ted Walsh’s charge entering the race having finished third in a Grade 2 at Navan a month earlier.

Sent off as a 6/1 chance, the seven-year-old benefitted from a typical O’Connor waiting ride, as he was restrained towards the rear of mid-division for much of the race before making headway on the run to the third-last.

Launched to challenge Kilfilum Cross at the final fence, Any Second Now hit the front early on the run-in, and stayed on best to win the 3m 2f contest by three and three-quarter lengths, with Mark O’Hare the next best of the Irish riders to complete in fifth aboard Philip Hobbs’ No Comment.

Jamie Codd’s attempts to record a Festival hat-trick went astray, as his mount the strong favourite, Measureofmydreams, could only manage eighth.

The victory in the Class two chase proved to be a fourth Festival success for O’Connor, three years after his last, and it was his first in the Kim Muir, as he got the better of Kilfilum Cross, a horse he knows quite well having patterned the grey to win his maiden point-to-point at Cragmore, whilst he was re-united with the now eight-year-old when he guided Henry Oliver’s charge to win the Prince of Wales Challenge Trophy at Ludlow.

The Galway native was understandably delighted with the success when he spoke with Racing TV.

“It was wonderful. The horse jumped and travelled very well and we had a great passage, but the worry I had coming to the last was Kilfilum Cross, a horse that I knew quite well and he stays well, I just didn’t know if I was going to get buy him. But my lad was very game and honest and he galloped all the way to the line.

“Ted (Walsh) did a wonderful job. He gave me great confidence and likewise Ruby and Katie. I talked to them all before I went out and do you know, when you have people like that, giving you confidence in a horse, it kind of instils confidence in you and you can ride him with loads of confidence because of it.

“I think the Walsh family are an incredible family and they gave me that pleasure today.

“He (Ted Walsh) doesn’t tie you down to instructions, he just said get him settled he is a great jumper and arrive there going down to the last. There is no tying you down to instructions, be here or be there. He is very straight forward and they all said he was in great form so it worked out great.

O’Connor also added his thoughts to the controversy which has followed the decision of the BHA Stewards to issue lengths suspensions to riders in both the National Hunt Chase and Kim Muir.
“There was so much bad press about the amateur races after Tuesday and you would like to knock that on the head. As a whole the amateur community, we work very hard and we are an integral part of the whole industry.

“We work hard from 7am to 7pm every day seven days a week 12 months a year, so we work hard and we don’t need bad press, we need help.

“If we make a mistake in a race we don’t need bad press we need people to work together to make the situation better.”

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