By Andy Stephens
Ruby Walsh believes Total Recall still has plenty to prove if he is to make up into a genuine Cheltenham Gold Cup contender.
The injured serial champion jockey, who faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines after breaking his leg in a fall at Punchestown on November 18, watched with mixed emotions as Total Recall justified favouritism with a courageous neck defeat of Whisper in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on Saturday.
Bookmakers responded by quoting the eight-year-old between 16-1 and 33-1 for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March but Walsh spoke about him in cautious tones when talking to Racing UK’s Luck On Sunday programme.
“He’s gone up 18lb for winning the Munster National and he will go up again for yesterday. He only won by a neck but they were a good bit in front of the third, so ratings wise that will put him up in the bracket,” Walsh said.
“But he’s won two big handicaps carrying 10st 8lb or less and he’s not the biggest or most robust horse so is he going to be so effective when you put 11st 12lb on his back? That will be the next question.
“He’s a bouncy horse, very athletic. He travelled well, jumped superb and showed plenty of stamina but it’s just a different ball game when you get up into Grade One company when everyone is carrying 11st 12lb. That’s when you need a bit of size about you."
Walsh, who partnered Kauto Star to his two Gold Cup triumphs, added: “I thought Whisper, with the weight [11st 8lb] he carried, ran an incredible race. Total Recall will have to prove on his next start he is up to carrying similar.”
The 38-year-old has suffered many broken bones during his decorated career but admitted he remains restless when on the sidelines.Walsh sauys Douvan is in "terrific order" for the Tingle Creek (PA)
“It’s a nightmare, I haven’t got any better at being injured,” he said. “I was back for an X-ray on Wednesday and the doctor was very happy. It’s a straightforward leg break and we are looking at 12 to 14 weeks [off]. It will be great if it’s 12 weeks but if it is 14 then so be it.
“The days are short and I’m watching plenty of racing.” Then, showing he had not lost his sense of mischief, he told host Nick Luck: “I could tell you all the mistakes you made yesterday!”
Walsh confessed he faces the prospect of missing many more big winners.
“There are going to be a few awkward weekends in this house between now and the end of January,” Walsh admitted. “Douvan looks great and is in terrific order so I’m already not looking forward to next Saturday [when he runs in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown].
Like everyone else, Walsh is also relishing the day when Champion Hurdle winners Faugheen and Buveur D’Air meet for the first time.Djakadam is on course to try and win the John Durkan Chase for a third time (PA)
“You would have to be impressed with Buveur D’Air yesterday,” Walsh said. “That’s a clash for down the road between himself and Faugheen. That will be spectacular when it happens.”
Mullins also admitted to being impressed by Buveur D'Air's easy victory in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.
"Buveur D'Air was fantastic and I am sure Nicky Henderson was very pleased. I would be if I had him," Mullins said. "Both horses have done their first trials well. I've not thought any more about his run at Christmas. Fingers crossed we will stay right for Cheltenham."
The trainer is looking forward to giving Djakadam the chance of winning the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase for the third time on December 10.
"We will go to Punchestown for the John Durkan," said the Closutton handler. "After that we will see what we will do. He has won the John Durkan the last two years so we will be happy enough to go back there again."