Leopardstown Christmas Festival Ends On A High Note

With Petit Mouchoir Victory For Gigginstown House

Friday, December 30, 2016
Petit Mouchoir and Bryan Cooper wins the Ryanair Hurdle  Leopardstown

Petit Mouchoir and Bryan Cooper wins the Ryanair Hurdle Leopardstown Photo: Patrick McCann 29.12.2016

The fourth and final day of the Leopardstown Christmas Festival concluded with an attendance of 11,915 bringing total attendees over the four day festival to 61,071.  Like the Lexus Chase the day before, the feature race of the day, the Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle proved to be another thrilling and unpredictable race with plenty of intrigue and quality to savour.  It had been a frustrating Christmas Festival for trainer Henry de Bromhead and jockey Bryan Cooper but Petit Mouchoir made sure it ended on a high when taking the €100,000 Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle to deny Willie Mullins a fifth straight success in the Ryanair Hurdle.

De Bromhead's five-year-old (6/1) ran the five-runner field ragged from the front as the Gigginstown House Stud runner, now 10/1 from 20’s with Paddy Power for Cheltenham's Champion Hurdle, galloped the hot favourite and defending Nichols Canyon (2/5 favourite) into submission to score by seven lengths.  

It was the first Leopardstown winner of the week for De Bromhead and Cooper and a welcome success for Michael O'Leary, who sponsored the day's showpiece, on a day when Jessie Harrington took the €85,000 Grade 1 Neville Hotels Novice Chase with Our Duke (4/1) justifying strong market support.  Robbie Power's mount blundered badly in the back straight but was quickly galvinised by his Grand National-winning pilot, who helped cut down Coney Island (5/2 favourite) and Disko (20/1) in the home straight in a thrilling finish.  The three had jumped the last fence virtually in a line, echoing Outlander, Don Poli and Valseur Lido less than 24 hours earlier in the Lexus Chase, and it was Our Duke, now 10/1 for Cheltenham's RSA Chase, who put his head down to score by half a length.

Earlier in the day, Let's Dance ran out an impressive winner of Grade 3 €40,000 Willis Towers Watson European Breeders Fund Mares Hurdle with Mullins' four-year-old powering clear of Slowmotion around the home turn, before scoring by an effortless 17 lengths under champion jockey Ruby Walsh. The Walsh-Mullins duo scored a double with a later win on Battlefordin the Guinness Maiden Hurdle. Elsewhere, the Joseph O’Brien trained, JP McManus ownedExactoris taking the Top Oil EBF Novice Handicap Hurdle.

The final day of the festival concluded with a live concert after racing from Ireland’s leading vocalist Brian Kennedy and the Top Oil Mascot Charity Race.

Pat Keogh, CEO of Leopardstown, commented, "We are delighted with the success of this year's Leopardstown Christmas Festival. It is wonderful to get great attendances on all days and to see so many young people enjoying their racing. I would like to thank all our customers, owners, trainers, jockeys and most importantly our sponsors without whom we could not have staged this Festival. While the Festival is now behind us, we have plenty to look forward to in the New Year, Coral.ie Hurdle and BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle in January and the inaugural Stan James.com Irish Gold Cup in February. It looks like 2017 will be another exciting year at Leopardstown.”