Monday, we start at Naas. The ground proved to be too fast for Mokhalad while it was of course disappointing. Mokhalad was perfectly fine afterwards. We are grateful to Shane Foley for looking after Mokhalad. We will wait for a little rain and ease in the ground before trying again in May. Division one of the Starlite Drive-In Cinema at Naas Racecourse Handicap saw a dead-heat between Hidden Spark and Blue Raven.
Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Minella Indo has been ruled out of the Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup on Wednesday with a bruised foot. Henry de Bromhead was forced to pull the plug on his intended seasonal swansong when he discovered the problem.
Tuesday, Day one of Punchestown. Chacun Pour Soi bounced back to his brilliant best to land the William Hill Champion Chase at Punchestown. Having disputed the early running with Allaho, Townend sent the Rich and Susannah Ricci-owned winner to a clear lead with over a circuit to race – and they were then never headed. Having looked outpaced back over this shorter trip before the home turn, Allaho attempted to close the gap in the straight, but 6-5 favourite Chacun Pour Soi was ultimately far too strong for his stablemate and passed the post with five and a half lengths in hand. Nube Negra was some 19 lengths further behind in third.
Exciting mare Echoes In Rain beat the boys with an impressive display in the eCOMM Merchant Solutions Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown. Jazzaway was the narrow winner of the Grade B Killashee Hotel Handicap Hurdle at Punchestown today as the Willie Mullins trained mare provided winning Whitegrass Racing Syndicate. Jazzaway was advised 0.5pt each way at 10/1 to our members. Adamantly Chosen was the well-backed winner (show 10/1 - 5/1) of the Goffs Land Rover Bumper at Punchestown today, providing a big-race success for jockey Jody Townend and a fourth winner on the day for Champion Trainer Willie Mullins.
Colreevy ended her racing career in a blaze of glory after upsetting big guns Monkfish and Envoi Allen with a superb front-running victory in the Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown. A clash between the Willie Mullins-trained Monkfish and Henry de Bromhead’s Envoi Allen was billed as one of the races of the season, with Monkfish protecting an unbeaten record over fences and Envoi Allen bidding to bounce back from his early fall at Cheltenham.
However, Monkfish’s stablemate Colreevy – winner of the inaugural Mares’ Chase in the Cotswolds last month – had other ideas under a well-judged ride from the trainer’s nephew, Danny Mullins. The 7-1 shot raced enthusiastically and jumped with exuberance on the front end, with eventual runner-up Monkfish sat second under Paul Townend and Envoi Allen third in the hands of Rachael Blackmore.
However, Envoi Allen appeared to be in a troublesome way from home before eventually being pulled up approaching the second-last fence, by which time Monkfish was also struggling to peg back the leader. Colreevy was a little untidy at the final obstacle, but soon regathered her momentum and passed the post eight lengths clear. The winner, who was recently covered by leading sire Walk In The Park, is now set for a well-earned retirement at the age of eight. Willie Mullins said: “On ratings she was the best-rated (with the mares’ allowance). Obviously Envoi Allen is not right, and Monkfish probably didn’t run his true race, but she did and probably ran an even better race than she did in Cheltenham.“It’s a nice send-off for Colreevy. It’s fabulous for the Flynns (owners) and for Danny as well.” Envoi Allen is off for a CT scan hopefully he comes back next season. An unbelievable day for Willie Mullins who landed a five-timer.
Wednesday, Day two Of Punchestown. Galopin Des Champs blew his rivals away with an impressive display to win the Grade One Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle Albert Bartlett winner Vanillier didn't run to that level at all on this occasion. Clan Des Obeaux put up a brilliant performance to strike for Britain in the Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup for Paul Nicholls. I thought this was a brilliant race, it was a good effort from Paul Nicholls who supplemented Clan Des Obeaux for this. Kilcruit reversed Cheltenham form with Sir Gerhard to claim the Punchestown champion bumper. I think Kilcruit looks like a Ballymore horse all day long. Champion conditional elect Simon Torrens took the opener with Jessica Harrington Guiri. The Mullins team completed a treble with Grangee. It was a decent day for ourselves at Punchestown. Fortune Street 340 Punchestown (0.5pt each way) 25/1 placed Guiri 340 (0.5pt each way) 9/1 won Gevrey 415 (0.75pt each way) 16/1 placed Stattler 520 (0.75pt each way) 10/1 placed.
Thursday, Day 3 of Punchestown Klassical Dream made light of a long absence as he ran out a hugely impressive winner of the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle. Klassical Dream absolutely bolted up landing the mother and father of a gamble. Energumene provided Willie Mullins with yet another Grade One winner at the Punchestown Festival when making all the running in the Ryanair Novice Chase. This was really brilliant the clash with Shiskin will be something else. Anthony Honeyball had gone close to a Punchestown Festival winner a couple of times in the past with his stable stalwart Regal Encore, but went one better with Sully D’Oc (6-1) in the Handicap Chase. Dysart Dynamo capped the day in fine fashion for the Mullins team as he cantered home under the trainer’s son Patrick in the closing Grant Thornton (C & G) INH Flat Race. The trainer was winning his 13th race of the week with the evens favourite. A decent day for us at Punchestown not many bets today Sully Doc AA 415 Punchestown (0.5pt each way) 15/2 (won) Botani 600 Punchestown (0.5pt each way) 28/1(placed) 0.25pt each way Double.
Friday, Day 4 of Punchestown. Gaillard Du Mesnil landed a second Grade One of the season with victory in the Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle. The five-year-old took advantage of the late withdrawal of Bob Olinger, who had beaten him in the Ballymore at Cheltenham, to add this to his top-level success at Leopardstown in February. Paul Townend was winning his 100th race of the season and said: “This lad was keen enough throughout the race, with just the four runners it was messy enough. Thankfully he’s won and it’s brilliant for Mr and Mrs Donnelly (owners) as well.“He was sloppy at the last down the back. For a four runner race there was a lot going on. All’s well that ends well.”Mullins added: “That was a very good performance and I think he’s going to be a nice horse next year.“There is a good possibility that he’ll jump fences next season and that might help him to settle as well. He’s too busy during a race, but once he learns to relax, he’ll give a lot more.”
Honeysuckle capped an amazing campaign when taking her unbeaten record to 12 in the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle. It was a really brilliant race. It looked like Honeysuckle had a long season, however, she delivered yet again. Honeysuckle was cut to 2-1 favourite from 11-4 to defend her Champion Hurdle crown at Cheltenham next spring with Paddy Power.“It’s 100 per cent relief — I nearly threw it away at the last,” said Blackmore.“She was feeling the season a little bit I think, but she’s just phenomenal. De Bromhead said: “We weren’t having an amazing week, but she always gets us out of trouble. She’s amazing. I’m just delighted for Kenny (Alexander, owner), Peter (Molony) and everyone involved.“She was brilliant and Rachael was brilliant on her.“She’s like a lot of those really good horses, she has such a will to win and Rachael is so good on her.“She’s done that before at the last, but thankfully Rachael had it all under control. It’s been an amazing season and that’s a great way to finish it off.”
Asterion Forlonge took the Grade A EMS Copiers Novice Handicap Chase at his ease. A 14th winner at Punchestown 2021 for Willie Mullins the haul has been well spread out for 13 different owners, and 8 jockeys have shared in the Closutton domination. “The drop in class makes a big difference to the pace of a race and he was able to get it all together. Even with top-weight in a handicap, it’s a different pace than you would have in Graded races,” said Mullins. Downpatrick-born, London-based David Maxwell experienced the thrill of a lifetime when winning the Irish Daily Star Champion Hunters Chase at Punchestown on his own Bob And Co. This was a wonderful result for a true amateur. It was also a second winner of the week for Paul Nicholls with two runners also a good thing. A sixteenth of the week and a treble on the day was rounded off for Willie Mullins as Sean O’Keeffe doubled up aboard El Barra. O’Keeffe was earlier a winner for Jessica Harrington with Rapid Response.
Saturday, Day 5 of Punchestown. Call It Magic and Keith Donoghue returned to Punchestown today when causing a 22/1 upset in winning an entertaining renewal of the opening Dooley Insurance Cross Country Chase. Scottish National-placed Mister Fogpatches landed the Colm Quinn BMW Group Handicap Chase at Punchestown today, scoring for trainer Pat Fahy and Jockey Danny Mullins. Brian Hayes was the tenth jockey to get on the scoresheet for Champion Trainer Willie Mullins at the Punchestown festival today, steering the Susannah and Rich Ricci-owned Brahma Bull to win the Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase. Willie Mullins admitted 'throwing the whole lot' at Punchestown this week following Cheltenham disappointments in March and today recorded his 19th festival winner this week with Koshari. The 15-times Champion Trainer's previous best for Punchestown's five-day festival was 18 wins in 2018 and following Koshari's win, revealed: “I was so disappointed with how a lot of the horses ran in Cheltenham and we changed a few things coming here.“I said I'd throw the whole lot at it, which we did, and it seems to have paid off.” Pure Bliss was the third English trained winner of the week at Punchestown today as the Harry Fry trained mare landed the Colm Quinn BMW Group (Mares) Handicap Hurdle under jockey Mark Walsh.
Stormy Ireland gained her first Grade 1 success at Punchestown today, landing the Coolmore Irish EBF Mares Champion Hurdle for trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Danny Mullins. The seven-year-old mare won seven times for Mullins prior to then-owner Jared Sullivan switching her to English trainer Paul Nicholls but failed to win in four starts and Sullivan selling for £75,000 at Goffs UK sale in January. Trainer Mullins later commented, “she appears to have improved from Fairyhouse and it's a great day for Danny and a nice double for him.“That mare surprised me, how much she has come on from that. We'll keep her in training, I don't think she's going to go to the breeding shed this year as she looks to have plenty left in the tank.“I'm having second thoughts now about going chasing with her and maybe we could go back to the Flat with her. Jeff Kidder caused another upset today as March's 80/1 Fred Winter Hurdle winner defeated the Triumph Hurdle horses to land Punchestown's Grade 1 Ballymore Champion 4YO Hurdle at odds of 22/1, much to the relief of his trainerNoel Meade.
Jim Bolger once again proved himself to be a master of his craft as Poetic Flare edged out Master Of The Seas in the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. Bolger won the race in 2013 with Dawn Approach – the sire of Poetic Flare – but this success will mean even more coming as it did in his wife Jackie’s silks. As ever, Bolger employed his son-in-law Kevin Manning in the saddle, so the Classic success was a real family affair. Handy throughout as Naval Crown set a very stiff gallop, the winner found himself right in the firing line with a furlong to run. Master Of The Seas had made eyecatching progress for William Buick and the pair of them set down to battle it out, with Lucky Vega just behind in third. It came down to a matter of who had their head down right on the line as they flashed by together, with the Irish raider getting the verdict by a short head and a neck.
None of Aidan O’Brien’s trio were ever involved, while Thunder Moon was among the first beaten. Speaking from his County Carlow base, Bolger, 79, who also bred the winner: said: “I thought he was beaten! It’s a big day for us, right up there with the best we’ve had.“He wasn’t ready for the Dewhurst last year. I thought he was a little bit fitter than he was and I was hoping he’d run a big race and get the experience of running at that level. He ran out of wind about a furlong and a half down, but we were very pleased in the run and didn’t lose faith in him.“I’m not too concerned about him getting further in time. Kevin did say in the interview on TV that he thought he’d stay 10 furlongs, but at the moment I’m not thinking about going anywhere except the mile.“He has buckets of speed and I even entered him in the Commonwealth Cup in the unlikely event that he didn’t stay, as he’s that quick and you always have some doubts about whether the very quick ones will stay or not. The St James’s Palace would definitely be on the cards.”He added: “It’s a wonderful day. In our case it’s fairly necessary with the way I do things! It very much carries on that Dawn Approach line, and I have two half-sisters of Poetic Flare as well.” Poetic Flare 340 Newmarket was advised (0.5pt each way) to our member at 16/1.
Sunday, we start at Newmarket. Zabeel Champion completed a quickfire hat-trick with the narrowest of victories on the second day of the Guineas Festival for Mark Johnston. Mother Earth gave trainer Aidan O’Brien a third successive victory in the Qipco 1000 Guineas as she claimed the fillies’ Classic in the hands of Frankie Dettori. At Salisbury, Opera Gift signalled his potential as a staying handicapper this summer after handling lively ground to record a promising victory for Andrew Balding.