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VOTE: Derek O'Connor nominated for Ride of the Year

Derek O’Connor has been announced as one of the six riders shortlisted for the Ride of the Year prize at next month’s Horse Racing Ireland Awards.
The winning-most point-to-point rider was selected for his winning ride aboard point-to-point graduate, Edwulf, to claim the Grade 1 Unibet Irish Gold Cup during the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown in February.
Having made his way from Ballinaboola point-to-point, where he was in action earlier in the day, O’Connor teamed-up with Joseph O’Brien’s nine-year-old for just the fourth time in the Grade 1 feature, having been aboard the son of Kayf Tara a year earlier at the Cheltenham Festival when the JP McManus-owned gelding had collapsed on the run-in during the JT McNamara National Hunt Chase.
Suffering from oxygen starvation, Edwulf was treated on the racecourse for an hour and a-half before being taken in the horse ambulance under Police escort to Three Counties Equine Hospital.
Making a full recovery, the pair were sent off as 33/1 outsiders at the Foxrock venue, and after creeping away towards the rear of the field for much of the three-mile trip, O’Connor steadily began to take closer order approaching the penultimate fence.
Left in front when fellow point-to-point graduate Killultagh Vic fell at the last, O’Connor produced Edwulf on the run-in to get the better of another ex-Irish Pointer, Outlander, by a neck in a thrilling finish, before the pair returned to jubilant celebrations in the winner’s enclosure.
Ruby Walsh and Johnny Murtagh compiled the short list, and of O’Connor’s ride in the Grade 1 contest, Walsh said: “He had been last all the way down the back on him. He had only had ten runs over fences, he had only completed in five, he nearly died in Cheltenham, Derek (O’Connor) is an amateur and this is the feature race at the Dublin Racing Festival. 
“He is a horse with a bit of a reputation and the timing is majestic. 
“He (Derek) is an amateur by name, by title, there is nothing amateur about this. In the last 100 yards, he delivers Edwulf on the line. Any professional would think this was outstanding. 
“This is Derek O’Connor, a Grade 1 race – I don’t think he had that many chances in a Grade 1 before and to deliver that, as I said any professional would think its majestic.”
Another former champion point-to-point rider, Davy Russell, features on the list for his winning ride aboard Apples Jade at Leopardstown over Christmas, whilst the shortlist is completed by Paul Townend, Kevin Manning, Colin Keane and Danny Sheehy.
To vote for Derek O’Connor, click HERE, with voting closing at 12 noon on Sunday December 2nd. 


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