LEADING Cheltenham Festival fancy Kilcruit provided one of the biggest shocks of the racing season – after being turned over at 1-14.
The Willie Mullins-trained superstar is believed to be the shortest-priced beaten favourite in Ireland in at least 25 years.
Having banked connections £112,000 from his past three runs – including a runner-up in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham Festival – he was expected to wipe the floor with rivals on his hurdling debut at Cork on Sunday.
The betting reflected that and he was sent off as giant odds-on favourite.
Some punters reported seeing his price shorten to a ridiculous 1-25 – meaning you had to stake £25 to win just £1, although the official SP was 1-14.
But the unthinkable happened as Kilcruit ended up losing by ten lengths to 6-1 Largy Debut, who was also making his hurdling debut.
The two were absolutely miles clear of the rest turning for home but Henry de Bromhead’s Largy Debut caught the eye as the strongest traveller.
Hugging the rail, the six-year-old was asked for a bit more three out and kept finding, while Kilcruit wilted like wet lettuce.
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Kilcruit’s jumping left a lot to be desired and he looked far from the top bumper horse we saw last season.
Jockey Sean O’Keeffe informed Mullins’ assistant trainer David Casey that the horse ‘never travelled’.
Casey told the Racing Post: “Sean said he didn’t travel through the race, he was beaten early.
“He jumped well up until the third-last. We’ve no other excuse at the moment.”
Mullins cut a more defiant tone though and insisted the horse had run well.
He said: “I thought Kilcruit ran well. He was beaten by a very good horse.
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“I don’t know what the betting fraternity think about it but to me… they pulled 24/25 lengths ahead of the rest.
“So we’ll see.”
Kilcruit’s shock loss obviously had big ramifications in the Cheltenham Festival ante-post market.
Sky Bet pushed him out to 6-1 from 4-1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, with Jonbon 9-4 favourite.
Interestingly, you could get Largy Debut at 12-1 for the same race.
Mullins also saw another of his odds-on favourites suffer defeat last weekend after Chacun Pour Soi disappointed in the Betfair Tingle Creek at Sandown.
Jockey Patrick Mullins said the superstar chaser ran ‘too bad to be true’ after coming last in the two-mile chase at odds of 8-13 on Saturday.
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