Mark Walsh’s title aspirations were dealt a hammer blow after the leading Irish jockey suffered a broken arm in a fall at Thurles.
Walsh, who rides the bulk of leading owner JP McManus’s Irish-based horses, was partnering the Mick Winters-trained 11-4 favourite Winter Breeze in the Killinan Maiden Hurdle when he came to grief three flights from the finish.
His tumble brought down Dontbackme, with Lets High Five It also unseating his rider at the same obstacle.
That was not the end of the drama as Goodluck Noel fell at the second last, bringing down the Davy Russell-ridden Lahaag.
Russell was stood down for the rest of the day, but emerged with only minor injuries.
Walsh, however, who currently leads the jockeys' title race, was not so lucky and a likely six-week absence will see him miss the upcoming Cheltenham Festival and a crucial part of the season.
Walsh's agent, Garry Cribbin, said: "He's broken his left arm and he's also chipped a bone in his ankle. The good news is it's a clean break, but I am absolutely gutted for Mark.
“He’d worked so hard to build up a lead over the boys (in the title race) and I only hope we get another go at it. I think Mark deserves it.
“It’s hugely disappointing, but you have to put things into perspective and it could have been a lot worse. He’s actually been quite lucky.
“I spoke to the doctor and he thinks we’re talking about six weeks out.
“We’ve still got the whole of March ahead of us, so fingers crossed he’ll be back in time for Punchestown at the end of April.”
Walsh currently leaves the jockeys' standings on 68 winners, with Paul Townend second on 59 and Ruby Walsh third on 56.
Russell’s agent, Andrew ‘Frosty’ Kelly, said: “Davy is a bit sore but he’s fine.
“He’s due to ride at Doncaster on Friday, but we’ll make a call after we see how he is in the morning.”
Thurles clerk of the course Lorcan Wyer reported all other jockeys involved to be unscathed.