Classy Klassical Dream retains Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown

The victory completed a triple crown for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Klassical Dream retains the Ladbrokes Stayers Hurdle

Klassical Dream produced a brilliant run to retain the Champion Stayers Hurdle and complete a Punchestown Festival triple crown for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend, writes Jack Lacey-Hatton.

The eight-year-old timed his charge perfectly to lead home the seven-runner field, securing a dream return to action and producing some of his best jumping to date after finishing fifth at Cheltenham in the equivalent contest last month.

The 11-10 favourite held off a late charge from Ashdale Bob, who gave a career-best showing to finih second, with long-time leader Gentlemansgame back in third. 

With Rachael Blackmore in the saddle, Gentlemansgame made all the running and led with three to jump, only to be reeled in over the closing stages.

In truth, however, Klassical Dream was always in control throughout the two mile seven-and-a-half furlong trip, and once he made his move for home the outcome was a foregone conclusion.

It means Mullins and Townend have secured a triple crown of Festival feature winners so far this week, after Allaho in the Gold Cup and Energumene in the William Hill Champion Chase. 

“He (Klassical Dream) was very good,” said Townend. “He behaved himself brilliantly in the race, it worked out lovely for us.

“I thought it was a fair gallop, not fast but we went even which probably suited every horse.

“It’s hard to second guess what he is thinking, but we kept him as relaxed as we could. He is growing up in his races and giving himself a chance in the middle of them.

“Once you don’t upset him, that is obviously the key to him.”

Mullins added: “He loves it around here. I thought Paul gave him a lovely tidy race, brought him down late to the start, got him away nice and relaxed.

In the second Grade 1 on Thursday, the Barberstown Castle Novice Chase, 2-1 favourite Blue Lord narrowly edged a rousing battle after the final flight with outsider Coeur Sublime.

A wonderful jumping display saw him bounce back from his first defeat of the season in the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival, where he was beaten by Edwardstone, with leading jockey Townend saddling his second winner of the day.

The seven-year-old, owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, was back at the top of his game to register the sixth win of his career, with a brave run from Gabynako seeing him come home third, albeit way off the front two, for Gavin Cromwell.

The eventual winner raced keenly and had just a little bit more than Rachael Blackmore and Coeur Sublime, after they cleared the last almost in unison.

Winning trainer Mullins said that Blue Lord may go further out when he returns next season, although the Champion Chase at Cheltenham remains an option. 

He said: “I was wondering if there was enough pace at the front for this horse.

“They quickened when four from out, but then I couldn’t believe how much Paul pulled out of him.

“I thought Coeur sublime had stolen the race between the last two. But Paul said he didn’t want to appear in front too soon, that happened at Leopardstown and the horse was all over the place.

“But Paul timed it beautifully. Going back to Cheltenham wouldn’t be a problem, the horse is getting better.

“I think will mix it between two to two-and-a-half for him next year, he is one to look forward to. We’ll give him a shot at the Champion Chase route, but I think two-and-a-half might be better.”

Earlier on, in the Grade B Conway Handicap Hurdle, A Great View turned back the clock to repeat his victory in the same race four years previously.

The 2018 winner, priced at 10-1, looked far more comfortable over hurdles and pulled away from Bugs Moran and Maze Runner, who finished second and third respectively. 

With an expert ride from Mark Walsh in the saddle, the JP McManus-owned 11-year-old was forced to take the long way round the field, but roared home after clearing the last.

Since his last success at Punchestown, A Great View hadn’t returned to the winners enclosure, a move towards the fences proving unsuccessful, but he looked back to his best on Thursday.

After the win Walsh said: “He has been a bit hard to work with, actually his last win was in this race four years ago, having his own idea about things.

“I thought it was a good gallop, but as we went down the back-straight I hit a flatspot, he wasn’t really travelling.

“I just pulled him to the outside and that seemed to spark him up a little bit. 

“He seemed to travel then, so I think it helped him, he seemed to start moving a bit better. 

“He just doesn’t have confidence over fences so it’s best he sticks to hurdles, but Denis (Cullen) does all the work, I just get up and ride him.”

And trainer Cullen revealed after the win he was always confident A Great View could get back to his best.

He added: “Mark gave him a super ride, so we’re all delighted. I though he had a great chance, his form all year has been strong he is there or there abouts.

“He does like this track and the ground, so I was quite confident. I’m not surprised that he won.

“He is very competitive against the handicappers, so we’re delighted with him. He is a horse who tends to like a bit of room. Once Mark pulled him to the outside that was it, he gave him a super ride.”

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