Fresh falls pile pressure on Calamity Sam

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The Independent Online

Hennessy Day at Newbury proved a crossroads in many different career paths. Most obviously, the success of Madison Du Berlais in the big race reiterated the impression that David Pipe will end up winning at least as many big races as his father, Martin, if not quite so many small ones. At the other end of the spectrum, a hock injury to Inglis Drever confirmed that we will not see much more of one of the best staying hurdlers of recent years. And the latest mishap endured by Sam Thomas left him in an agonising limbo between the two.

The news yesterday concerning Inglis Drever, who was pulled up in his quest for a fourth consecutive success on the card, was less depressing than his owner had anticipated. "He pulled a tendon off his hock, [but] only partially, and even put some weight on it last night," Graham Wylie said. "It's far too early to say about the future. The horse is fine, and the injury's not life-threatening. I think it will take a month or so before we need to decide what to do, but it's better than we thought."

Thomas, meanwhile, has somehow reversed the Midas touch by which he won so many big races during Ruby Walsh's absence over exactly the same period last year. Paul Nicholls, who employs both jockeys, did not seem especially disposed to show any more fidelity after the clumsy Hennessy fancy, Big Buck's, unseated Thomas at the last fence. Kauto Star had done just the same the previous weekend, and Nicholls was understood to be pondering his options for Master Minded, who runs in the same colours at Sandown on Saturday – Tony McCoy being a tempting alternative.

The three British raiders at the Japan Cup in the meantime proved unable to prolong the Breeders' Cup party, Purple Moon faring best in ninth behind a shock winner, Screen Hero. Sixties Icon and Papal Bull trailed in 13th and 14th respectively.