NOT impressed with being unseated from Vital Island roughly halfway through the four-mile, two-furlong Mongey Communications La Touche Cup on the Thursday of the meeting, amateur jockey Benny Walsh won two other races over the banks course at the Punchestown Festival.
On Saturday, he landed the Dooley Insurance Group Chase on Hurricane Darwin who is now trained by former international event rider Cormac Farrell having previously been in the care of Peter Maher. The 12-year-old Westerner gelding is owned by Doug Taylor who had hoped to ride the bay himself in the Golden Button Challenge in February but had to withdraw following a fall out hunting.
Benny is well-known among hunt chase fans as a member of the all-conquering Killinick Harriers’ team who were so dominant at the Dublin Horse Show in previous years.
In addition to his work in training and producing thoroughbreds to race and for sale, his daughter Lily, who joined him on the podium on Saturday, is determined to ride on the pony racing circuit. She had one mount in open company at Galway last year and won the local race at Taghmon.
However, Lily’s mother Jenny is not as keen for her daughter to go pony racing and is extolling the opportunities she would have as a member of the Killinick Branch of the Irish Pony Club. Lily, who will be 11 this month, will be doing Minimus, hunter trials and one-day events. She often rides the 17-year-old mare Shannon who Jenny partnered for two of the Killinicks’ wins at Dublin while Benny rode her once at the RDS as did his sister Ciara.
As she only attended Punchestown on the day Benny was unseated, Jenny thinks it best that she doesn’t travel to France where her husband will be riding in a series of cross-country races on Hurricane Darwin and the Richard O’Keeffe-trained Vital Island who, prior to running in the La Touche, won the Kildare Hunt Club Ladies Cup race last week. One of those French races will be at Le Lion d’Angers, venue each autumn for the world breeding championships for young event horses.
Jenny competed in three legs of the thoroughbred class at the recent Stepping Stones to Success league at Wexford Equestrian with Back It Up who, on his only point-to-point start, had finished fourth in a four-year-old maiden at Belclare on March 20th. While Benny thinks the Mahler gelding has a future in racing, Jenny would rather see the bay being produced as an eventer – though not from their yard!