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After injury nightmare, a day to cheer at Leopardstown for one of racing's good guys

Jack Kennedy combined with Mighty Potter for Grade One success.

Jack Kennedy on board Mighty Potter celebrates after winning.
Jack Kennedy on board Mighty Potter celebrates after winning.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

JACK KENNEDY IS one of the good guys of the weighing room and he’d have got a hell of a cheer were anyone at Leopardstown to do so on day two.

He isn’t one for the limelight, more often light at the tunnel’s conclusion. His injury list for a 22-year-old is bordering on grotesque. It continued in early November as he broke his arm at Navan.

It began at Downpatrick in 2016 when he fractured his right fibula. He suffered a repeat of that injury the following month before breaking his left leg in May 2017.

In February last year, just after winning the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Delta Work, Kennedy broke his right leg again.

Collarbone issues plagued him in the last few years, while he damaged ribs in a fall in August.

So to guide Mighty Potter home in the Grade 1 novice hurdle for boss Gordon Elliott will have meant a lot, even if he is likely taking nothing for granted.

He told The42: ”That was deadly. He was brilliant, one I was looking forward to a lot, and it rode like a good race. I heard the other horses coming but he was only doing what he had to do.

“Of the injuries, this annoyed me the most. It’s the wrong time of year. I know when I broke my leg in February before, that was a proper injury, one of them sort of bad ones.”

One of them sort of bad ones. Not Jack.

“My brother Paddy would talk to me the most. Gordon is very good to me as well. He assures me I’ll ride when I come back every time it happens, that the horses will be there.”

jack-kennedy-onboard-mighty-potter-comes-home-to-win Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Do all these injuries mean he might lose his bottle?

“It doesn’t affect me psychologically and when that happens you give up. I could be doing without them alright, though.”

He’s had a lot of time, living alone in Kildangan, to focus on his woes. Tonight is another fresh start.

“It’s great for Jack,” Elliott said, who also provided runner-up Three Stripe Life. “Both of these are good horses for the future.”

Henry de Bromhead has had a decidedly up-and-down Christmas but one wonders will he ever get gifted a cheaper senior grade one.

De Bromhead watched Minella Indo pull up in the King George on Monday but took the big one on day two in Foxrock, perhaps the most underwhelming renewal of the race in living memory.

Originally Energumene was supposed to be the star attraction but then Willie Mullins declared stablemate Chacun Pour Soi, who had flopped in the Tingle Creek, only.

A setback ruled Chacun Pour Soi out this morning and Mullins didn’t sound terribly optimistic.

“It’s a hamstring, that’s basically it, but there might be more to it,” he ventured at the track.

That left Envoi Allen, hyped up like few horses before him prior to a switch to Henry de Bromhead (that came about because of a controversial image online), with a seemingly simple task.

rachael-blackmore-onboard-envoi-allen-comes-home-to-win Rachael Blackmore on board Envoi Allen comes home to win. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

And even though he won by around half a dozen lengths against a flattering Battleoverdoyen, it seems safe to say now that Envoi Allen is a good horse but nowhere near what he looked like he might be.

Here, he was all out to get rid of the challenge of a horse, Battleoverdoyen, who has too become less than what he promised he might be. It’s a bit like Stephen Kenny’s under-21s for Ireland and we see it year after year: novices making the switch to senior enter a different league. Envoi Allen is what he is.

“I’m delighted with him, it’s massive to win another Grade 1,” said de Bromhead, who probably wishes the hysteria about the horse had not preceded his arrival.

“He jumped really well and he battled on great. He beat a horse rated 155 by seven and a half lengths. He was super at his flights.

“I’d say next it’s Cheltenham, Champion Chase or Ryanair.”

On all known evidence of chasing, Envoi Allen will not have a hope in either and, on the evidence of Kempton, Minella Indo will have no hope of retaining his Gold Cup but de Bromhead can take satisfaction from the latter seeming none the worse.

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“It was very disappointing,” de Bromhead told The42, “and nothing obvious has come to light. We are doing a load of tests on him.

“We’ll just have to see but he seems sound today.”

JP McManus had eight runners in the Paddy Power and it is clear that some punters could not tell them apart during the race. A Wave Of The Sea, who was never involved, was matched at odds-on in running on the betting exchanges.

The winner, the Noel Meade-trained School Boy Hours, was somehow matched at 149-1, despite always travelling well.

It has also been a manic festival for another rider returning from injury, with Sean Flanagan taking the race. Flanagan fractured vertebrae in a fall on Noel Meade’s schooling grounds just over six weeks ago.

sean-flanagan-onboard-schoolboy-hours-comes-home-to-win Sean Flanagan on board School Boy Hours comes home to win. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Flanagan said: “I’d a fantastic spin around and I’ve never ridden him in a race before. I never had much luck in this. I’m on the ground down the back in it much of the time. It’s great after a tough few weeks.”

The undercard was worthy of more chat. Willie Mullins enjoyed a treble and looks to have a nice recruit in juvenile Icare Allen, who won the opener, while he had lots of praise too for 1-3 favourite Haut En Couleurs, who showed a touch of the class under Paul Townend in the maiden chase

And Mullins added concerns about how quick the ground was – but it did not prevent 4-6 favourite Embassy Gardens prevailing by a nose in the bumper under son Patrick.

Kennedy riding winners for Gordon Elliott, a Mullins treble and a de Bromhead Grade 1 winner. As normal as things can be with nobody there.

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