HRI Review

Racing Review

Royal Ascot Beckons For Runaway Navan Winner

Sergei Prokofiev will be operating at a much higher level from now on after running away with the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Race at Navan on Monday. With Ryan Moore in the saddle, Aidan O'Brien’s 2/5 favourite was in front over a furlong from home and raced clear to win by all of seven and a half lengths. There was a surprise result in the Listed Woodlands Stakes which went to the Niall McCullagh-ridden 20/1 shot Primo Uomo which was giving trainer Ger O’Leary his biggest success. Ballingarry, County Limerick-based Richard O’Brien and Billy Lee combined to win the 5f maiden with the well-supported 3/1 chance Maymine. Over the same trip, 20/1 chance Mokhalad won the handicap for Damian English and Maynooth apprentice Sean Davis. Caffe Macchiato won the first of the handicaps over 8f at odds of 9/2 for Curragh trainer Adrian Keatley and Shane Foley while Joseph O'Brien and Wayne Lordan took a similar race with the gambled-on 7/2 favourite Camile. The maiden over 8f went to 16/1 chance Coeur Sublime for Monasterevin trainer Peter Fahey and Ronan Whelan while Constancio, a 9/2 shot, won the 12f maiden for Jim Bolger and Kevin Manning.

Un De Sceaux Makes All For Ninth Grade 1 Victory

Un De Sceaux made it nine wins at the highest level when making all the running to land the Grade 1 BoyleSports Champion Chase for owner Edward O’Connell and Willie Mullins at Punchestown on Tuesday. Ridden for the first time by Patrick Mullins, the 9/2 chance was far too strong for 4/5 favourite Douvan. It was the last of three winners for the trainer on the day. He had won the Grade 1 Herald Novice Hurdle with 25/1 chance Draconien, which was ridden by Noel Fehily, before Rachael Blackmore steered 12/1 chance True Self to victory in the 2m handicap hurdle. Luck deserted the stable however in the Grade 1 Growise Champion Novice Chase. Firstly, Invitation Only was brought down when Henry De Bromhead’s Monalee fell when the pair disputed the lead two fences from home and then Al Boum Photo was controversially taken out of the race by Paul Townend and carried Colin Tizzard’s Finian’s Oscar off the track approaching the final fence with the race between them. This left the way clear for Gordon Elliott to record a 1-2-3 with the Davy Russell-ridden The Storyteller, a 16/1 chance, landing the spoils. Elliott also dominated in the Goffs Land Rover Bumper again filling the first three places as Commander Of Fleet, ridden by Barry O’Neill, won at odds of 5/1. The Ladies Cup over the banks course went the way of 16/1 chance Just Wait And See which was ridden by Billy Gleeson for his father John while Patrick Mullins made it two on the day as the Pat Fahy-trained 16/1 chance Kalum River won the concluding bumper.  

Mullins Dominates With First Six-Timer

Willie Mullins sent out six winners at the same meeting for the first time in his illustrious career when dominating the second day of the Irish National Hunt Festival at Punchestown on Wednesday. He won all three Grade 1 races on the card with different jockeys in the saddle and first up was Paul Townend who put Tuesday’s blip behind him when landing the Grade 1 Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle on 5/4 favourite Next Destination. David Mullins led home a 1-2 for the stable when Bellshill beat Djakadam to win the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup while there was a 1-2-3 for the yard when the Richie Deegan-ridden Tornado Flyer beat Blackbow and Carefully Selected to win the Grade 1 bumper. Mullins’ first winner of the session was the Townend-ridden 11/4 favourite Pravalaguna in the 2m4f conditions’ hurdle and while Patricks Park (11/2) gave the former champion jockey a treble on the day, the champion trainer’s six-timer was completed when his son Patrick partnered 7/4 favourite Coolreevy to win the Grade 3 bumper. The only other trainer to visit the winners’ enclosure was Kilmessan, County Meath-based Matthew Smith who saddled 25/1 chance Prince Garyantle which won the opportunity series handicap hurdle final under Adam Short.  

Faugheen Bounces Back With Stayers Hurdle Success

Faugheen is very much a crowd favourite and he was the star of the week with his success in the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown on Thursday. The 11/2 shot made every yard of the running on his first start over three miles since his novice days to win in great style under David Mullins for his uncle Willie Mullins who was also responsible for Penhill and Shaneshill which finished second and third respectively. The champion trainer also added the Ryanair Novice Chase to his Grade 1 haul when Daryl Jacob partnered the 2/5 favourite to an all-the-way 12-length victory. Mullins also landed the 2m handicap chase with 12/1 chance Cadmium which was ridden by Danny Mullins. Gordon Elliott got in on the winning act when Jack Kennedy partnered 6/1 favourite Park Paddocks to win the 2m handicap hurdle. The famed La Touche Cup went the way of Enda Bolger and newly crowned champion conditional rider Donie McInerney who won with 11/4 chance Auvergnat which beat stable companion Josies Orders by a neck. The 3m handicap hurdle was won by local trainer Denis Cullen who saddled 7/1 chance A Great View to win under Mark Walsh. Mullingar trainer Dot Love and Rachael Blackmore combined to win the mares’ novice hurdle with 10/1 chance Dawn Shadow while the bumper was won by 4/1 chance Dunvegan which was ridden for trainer Pat Fahy by his son Conor.

Harrington Enjoys Super Friday With Punchestown Double

Supasundae was the highlight of a Friday night double for trainer Jessica Harrington at Punchestown. The gallant eight-year-old landed the Grade 1 Betdaq Champion Hurdle at odds of 7/1 under Robbie Power although his task was simplified when market leaders Samcro and Melon crashed out independently at the third last flight. Power had also taken the mares’ handicap chase on 6/1 chance Magic Of Light. Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy received a measure of compensation for the early exit of Samcro when Dortmund Park, a 16/1 chance finished clear of three Willie Mullins runners to win the Grade 1 Champion Novice Hurdle over 2m4f. Willie Mullins landed a double with the Paul Townend-ridden Kemboy taking the 2m5f novice handicap chase on 11/4 favourite Kemboy while Katie Walsh brought the curtain down on her fine career in the saddle when landing the novice hurdle on 9/1 chance Antey which pipped Shady Operator by a nose. The latter’s trainer Joseph O'Brien enjoyed better luck when 6/1 chance Lone Wolf won the bumper under Derek O’Connor. Other amateur riders on the mark were Barry O’Neill who landed the Bishopscourt Cup on the Peter Maher-trained 2/1 chance Alpha Male while William Biddick and Rose Loxton enjoyed their first winner in Ireland when Caid Du Berlais took in the Champion Hunters Chase at odds of 9/2.

Mullins Wraps Up Remarkable Season Final Day Grade 1 Double

Willie Mullins ended the season on a wonderful high when landing the final two Grade 1 races of the season at Punchestown on Saturday. He sent out four winners on the day to finish the season on a tally of 212, two more than his great rival Gordon Elliott. Benie Des Dieux was the star as she landed the Grade 1 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Champion Hurdle in great style under Paul Townend. Mullins dominated the Grade 1 AES Champion Four-Year-Old Hurdle as he saddled the first four horses across the line, the quartet led by Robbie Power on 10/1 winner Saldier. Rachael Blackmore enjoyed her second winner of the week when successful on the Mullins-trained 14/1 chance Meri Devie in the 2m4f handicap hurdle and the trainer’s son Patrick was in the saddle as 7/2 joint-favourite Passageway won the bumper, the final race of the season. Mullins enjoyed a record 18 winners during the festival. The brilliant Nina Carberry announced her retirement from the saddle after she won the 3m cross country chase on the Enda Bolger-trained 6/5 favourite Josies Orders. Over the more conventional fences, Heron Heights, at odds of 16/1 won the 3m handicap chase for Henry De Bromhead and Robbie Power while Noel Meade and Sean Flanagan won the 3m6f handicap chase with 20/1 shot Wounded Warrior.

Racing News

Irish National Hunt Champions Crowned At Punchestown

Willie Mullins came with a late rally to once again deny his great rival Gordon Elliott the title of champion trainer as the 2017/2018 National Hunt season ended at Punchestown this week. The champions in six categories were presented with their awards at Punchestown racecourse on Saturday by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD. Gigginstown House Stud are the leading owners for the fourth successive season and for the sixth time in all. Their most valuable win came at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday when General Principle, trained by Gordon Elliott and ridden by JJ Slevin, won the BoyleSports Irish Grand National. As he did 12 months ago, Willie Mullins left it late to secure the title of champion trainer. He only went to the head of table on Wednesday of last week and finished the term with 212 winners and record prize-money of €5,968,275. Davy Russell is champion jockey for the third time. He first won the title in the 2011/12 season with 104 winners and held on to the crown the following season with a final tally of 103. His final total this term is 119. In only his second season as a professional, Donal McInerney is the champion conditional rider with 33 winners. From County Limerick, his highest-profile winner came here at Punchestown this week when he won the Friends First Cross Country Steeplechase for the La Touche Cup on the Enda Bolger-trained Auvergnat. Patrick Mullins is the champion amateur rider for the tenth time. He lost out to Jamie Codd by a single winner in last season’s championship but easily regains the title with 57 winners this time. He won the Grade 1 BoyleSports Champion Chase on Un De Sceaux last week. In terms of winners ridden, Lisa O’Neill has easily enjoyed her best season and is the Leading Lady Rider with a tally of 20 beating Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh, who both retired after riding winners during the 2018 Irish National Hunt Festival at Punchestown, by five and six winners respectively. The highlight of Lisa’s season was her victory on Potters Point, trained by Gordon Elliott, in the Guinness Kerry National at Listowel in September, her second successive victory in the €175,000 race. 

Leading Amateur Riders Call It A Day At Punchestown

Two of the best amateur riders of their generation hung up their boots as the Punchestown festival drew to a close late last week. Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh, her sister-in-law, bowed out within 24 hours of each other and both went out on winners. Nina called it a day after winning the cross-country chase on Josies Orders for Enda Bolger on Saturday while Katie retired after landing a novice hurdle on the Willie Mullins-trained Antey on Friday night. Both were Cheltenham Festival winners and Irish Grand National winners in terrific careers that saw them both become household names in Ireland and Britain. 

2018 Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Series Launched

Irish EBF and Foran Equine have launched the 2018 Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction Series for two-year-olds bought at auction for €72,000 or less and by an EBF-registered sire. Total prize-money for the series has increased to €617,000 with two additional qualifying races bringing the total number of qualifiers to 22. Now in its fourth year the Auction Series has established itself as a principle target for two-year-olds. Each of the 22 qualifying races will have a minimum prize-fund of €20,000 as well as the added benefit of being Plus 10 registered, whereby qualified winners will be eligible for a bonus of €12,500 under the Plus 10 Scheme giving a winning owner a potential pay out of just under €25,000. The first race will take place at the Curragh Racecourse on Friday May 11 with the €120,000 final to be held at Naas Racecourse on October 21.

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