Edwulf: 'Miracle horse' wins thrilling Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown

Edwulf wins the Irish Gold Cup
Killultagh Vic was fine despite falling at the final fence - handing Edwulf victory

Outsider Edwulf, who nearly died a year ago, won a thrilling Irish Gold Cup by a neck at Leopardstown.

The 33-1 shot, ridden by Derek O'Connor for Aidan O'Brien, held off Jack Kennedy's mount Outlander in the three-mile steeplechase.

It was a poignant win for the gelding, who collapsed at Cheltenham last year.

The Willie Mullins-trained Djakadam was 10 lengths back in third, with favourite Our Duke fourth after a mistake at the penultimate fence.

Edwulf fell at the final fence in the JT McNamara National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March 2017, and the racecourse veterinary team worked for more than an hour to save the horse.

"It's been a long road to get him back from where he was at Cheltenham when we thought he was gone," said trainer O'Brien, 24.

He indicated nine-year-old Edwulf could return to Cheltenham for the Gold Cup next month.

O'Brien paid tribute to the winner on Twitter
O'Brien paid tribute to the winner on Twitter

O'Connor said:: "I never had a horse to do what he did.

"He ran himself into the ground for me at Cheltenham and we thought his career was over but he's after coming back to his best."

Our Duke stumbled into the 16th fence and. although the eight-year-old recovered. he finished more than 15 lengths back.

It was his first run since November, with jockey Robbie Power commenting: "He was very ring-rusty and he'll improve an awful lot from it."

Mullins was bidding for a 10th victory in the race and his other horse Killultagh Vic was ideally placed with jockey Paul Townend, only to veer and fall at the final fence.

Meanwhile, Outlander's trainer Gordon Elliott said he was keen to run the horse in the Cheltenham Gold Cup next month.

The County Meath handler said: "He ran his heart out and seems to like it here. We have to run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Where else would you go?"

In the preceding grade one race at Leopardstown on Sunday, favourite Monalee, ridden by Noel Fehily and trained by Henry de Bromhead, won the Novice Chase over two miles five furlongs.

Earlier, exciting novice hurdler Samcro claimed a seventh win on the trot and will be highly fancied to win again for trainer Gordon Elliott at Cheltenham in March.

Owner JP McManus congratulates jockey O'Connor after Edwulf's win
Owner JP McManus congratulates jockey O'Connor after Edwulf's win

Analysis

BBC horse racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght

Sensational by Edwulf.

Not just because he stormed through the closing stages to beat Outlander practically on the finishing line; and not just because Joseph O'Brien, still a rookie trainer, was winning this grade one steeplechasing prize after taking Australia's Melbourne Cup flat race in November; but sensational because the horse was recording this success having all but died at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

After collapsing as a result of a deficiency of oxygen, and staying on the ground for 40 long minutes, there were doubts he'd survive the night let alone race again.

But after months of care, he became the unlikely star of the second day of the new Dublin Racing Festival.

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