Racing: Osborne may be off course for six weeks

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The Independent Online
Anything can happen in jump racing, and usually does. The return of top-level National Hunt racing at Cheltenham at the weekend saw the biggest prize go to a three-horse stable, but the winning jockey ended the meeting in hospital, while a horse was killed in a pile-up in yesterday's big race. John Cobb reports.

Jamie Osborne was brought down to earth 24 hours after his magnificent win on Senor El Betrutti in Saturday's Murphy's Gold Cup when he was fired ino the air by Space Trucker in a novice chase at Cheltenham yesterday. Osborne hit the ground at speed and broke his wrist. He is likely to be out of action for up to six weeks and will miss the next appearance of Senor El Betrutti, who will try to bring more glory to the three-horse stable of Susan Nock when he returns to Cheltenham on 13 December for the Tripleprint Gold Cup.

Osborne was given oxygen to relieve the pain as he lay on the turf before being taken by stretcher from the course and by ambulance to Cheltenham General Hospital. He was detained in hospital last night, awaiting an operation on the wrist. The jockey has already missed two weeks of the campaign due to a broken collar-bone and concussion.

Given the dangerous nature of this sport it is hazardous to make predictions, but the winner of the pounds 20,000 event,Queen Of Spades, and the runner-up, Direct Route, look likely to be leading contenders for the Arkle Trophy back at Prestbury Park in March.

The Murphy's Draughtflow Hurdle had pounds 40,000 on offer and was the most valuable jumps race yet staged on a Sunday, but that hardly matters given the turmoil at the first flight where four horses came down, including Welsh Mill who broke a leg and had to be put down. Mr Percy avoided all the trouble to win by four lengths from Cadougold.

Later, in the conditional jockeys' hurdle won by Spendid, Ross Studholme fractured a collar-bone when his mount, Cassio's Boy, fell at the second last.

It is never too early for bookmakers to start thinking of next year's Cheltenham Festival and they were quick to offer Triumph Hurdle odds against The French Furze after the Martin Pipe-trained gelding won the juvenile event in style. He is a top-priced 25-1 with Ladbrokes but only 14-1 with William Hill.

Brian Storey would probably settle for the ups and downs of Osborne's weekend rather than the one-way, descending fortunes he endured. The jockey, who was widely expected to win the Murphy's Gold Cup on the favourite, Sparky Gayle, was yesterday suspended for five days by the Ayr stewards who decided that he had been schooling in public on Northern Motto in the novices' hurdle. The horse's trainer, Jim Goldie, was fined pounds 700 and the horse banned from the track for 30 days.

Also not trying too hard at Ayr was The Grey Monk, but he was not supposed to exert himself in a workout with a stablemate after racing. Eased down by Tony Dobbin in the straight, the second favourite for the Gold Cup will return to more vigorous action in Haydock's Tommy Whittle Chase next month.

Mr Mulligan, who failed to impress when winning at odds of 1-6 at Ayr on Saturday, has been nudged out to 10-1, from 8-1, by Coral for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. "It will take a lot more to convince us that he can break the Cheltenham hoodoo and win a second successive Gold Cup," Simon Clare, the firm's spokesman, said. Sparky Gayle's defeat prompted Coral to push his Gold Cup odds out to 25-1 from 20-1.

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