Mullins bides his time on Uncle Junior
Uncle Junior and jockey Patrick Mullins repeated last-year’s victory in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham yesterday.
The 11-year-old, trained by Patrick’s father Willie, was given a confident stalking ride in the 3m 7f contest and moved through the field before the final half mile of obstacles.
Despite a mistake at the sixth-last fence, he was able to master 11 to 4 favourite and long-time leader Balthazaar King before the turn for home and he was driven out for a comfortable success.
The Philip Hobbs-trained runner-up battled hard up the run-in but had to settle for second after mistakes at the final few obstacles, whilst John Halleys Outlaw Pete ran well in third place.
Outsider Another Jewel (66 to 1) ran on best of the rest to finish fourth under Davy Russell.
The trainer’s wife, Jackie, said: “Patrick won here on him last season, he loves it here. He’s run over in France and ran in the Pardubicka three weeks ago so we’re thrilled.
“Willie was wondering whether to run him or wait for the race in December, but he said we’d bring him and it worked.”
Earlier Dynaste invited immediate comparisons with his stablemate Grands Crus after making a winning start over fences in the same Cheltenham race in which the other David Pipe-trained grey reappeared 12 months ago.
Grands Crus, who tackles The Open meeting’s feature Paddy Power Gold Cup, was rated 8lb better than Dynaste over hurdles but both had managed to shake up the supreme stayer Big Buck’s before Pipe decided they would have an easier time if progressing to chasing.
Dynaste is a duller grey colour than Grands Crus and his winning distance in the Steel Plate And Sections Novices’ Chase was just four and a half lengths rather than a flashy 10, but the six-year-old was being asked to beat 5 to 4 favourite Fingal Bay, who had started off well at Chepstow last month and is still regarded by Philip Hobbs as one of his finest ever prospects.
Buck Magic (7 to 1) made a successful debut after moving from Keiran Burke to Neil Mulholland when battling home in the Irish Times Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.
“He’ll go chasing now,” said Mulholland.