Cheltenham Stories 2018- Edwulf


By Samantha

Contender– Edwulf

Race– Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup

Trainer– Joseph O’Brien

Owner– J P McManus

It is somewhat a miracle that Edwulf is alive, let alone being prepped to run in one of the greatest National Hunt races of them all. What he underwent at Cheltenham last year would normally kill a horse.

It all happened in and after the J T McNamara Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase. Edwulf was roughly a 5/1 shot and was partnered by Derek O’Connor. He was held up in the rear and had headway before four out and moved into second. At two out, he pecked on landing but stayed on his feet. Then, at the last, he jumped awkwardly and went wrong. Derek pulled him up quickly and jumped off.

The horse was showing signs of distress and then he collapsed onto his side. Screens went up for privacy. At first, it was suspected that he had suffered internal bleeding similar to the condition that tragically put an end to Many Clouds’ life. Vets monitored his heart, which was extremely chaotic. Then he began to have fits, which was probably caused by starvation of oxygen to his brain. They sedated him and his heart went back to normal and the fits stopped. He was able to move his limbs but he made no attempt to stand. Over the next couple of minutes, Edwulf became less and less responsive. Racecourse staff needed him to be moved so they could run the last race of the day so he was moved off track. The vets waited, hoping that he would get up and pull through. From the stands, owner J P McManus was looking on at proceedings. “Do what you can boys, do your best.” he instructed the vets. After forty minutes, a wobbly Edwulf got up and walked into the horse ambulance.

Edwulf was taken to Three Counties Equine Hospital, accompanied by a police escort. He got to the hospital at about half past seven and he was showing signs of blindness but there was no visible damage to the eye. Luckily, by the morning, it had all resolved. Amazingly, on Saturday morning, the gelding seemed no worse for wear and was cavorting around his field at the equine hospital.

Liam Kearns, Head Vet at Cheltenham, said afterwards, “To have a horse down in that situation, it was way out of the ordinary. I have never known anything like it. I have never known a situation whereby a horse has recovered from being on his side for so long.” His owner J P McManus publicly thanked the veterinary staff at the trophy presentation after Defi Du Seuil’s success in the Triumph Hurdle on the Friday of the meeting. “When you have a successful outcome, it is fantastic.” he said. Edwulf’s young trainer, Joseph O’Brien expressed his delight that his horse had survived, “The vets were top class, they did everything in their power. I couldn’t say enough good things about them. This was way out of the ordinary. It highlights how good they are. I thought we had lost him. I can’t describe the feeling of getting him back.”

Edwulf won the Unibet Irish Gold Cup after almost dying at Cheltenham 2017.


Does he have a chance?

Realistically, yes. He beat Outlander, Djackadam and Our Duke, all good horses, well enough in the Irish Gold Cup. Throughout the race he travelled really well. People could argue that he was lucky because Killultagh Vic fell at the last but for the whole way he looked like the best horse. O’Connor partnered the gelding in this race too and the pair stalked the leaders around the home turn and then pounced down the home straight, gaining on Oulander and beating him by a neck. The form has been franked as Our Duke, who was fourth, has won since. A negative could be whether he has the star quality to beat the likes of Might Bite, Sizing John and Native River. As well as this, psychologically, he may react badly to being back at Cheltenham as he suffered such a traumatising experience there. Overall, he could pick up the pieces and get some nice placed money at a big price.

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