Boston Bob wins Punchestown Gold Cup
Beat That too strong for Don Poli, Liz Doyle’s Le Vent D’Antan holds off Cheltenian
Jockey Adam O’Neill parts company with Bell Weir, at the first hurdle, in The Martinstown Opportunity Series Final Handicap Hurdle, at the Punchestown Festival. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times
Le Vent D’Antan ridden by Davy Russell wins The Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Beat That ridden by Barry Geraghty wins The Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Ruby Walsh riding Boston Bob to victory The Bibby Financial Services Ireland Punchestown Gold Cup at Punchestown. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Boston Bob stormed home in the hands of Ruby Walsh to claim victory in the Bibby Financial Services Ireland Punchestown Gold Cup.
An impressive winner of the Melling Chase at Aintree three and a half weeks ago, the Willie Mullins-trained nine-year-old was the 5-2 favourite to claim another Grade One prize as he stepped back up in trip.
First Lieutenant travelled powerfully in the first-time blinkers and was the first of the main protagonists to commit for home, but Boston Bob reeled him in after the final fence to take top honours under a jubilant Walsh. Long Run finished third.
Paul Townend partnered the Mullins-trained On His Own, whom Walsh snubbed in favour of Boston Bob, but the Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up faded tamely out of contention after having taken the field along for much of the three-mile-one-furlong journey.
Boston Bob travelled notably well throughout, with Walsh seemingly keen to play his cards as late as possible. He was slightly awkward on landing at the final fence, but soon regained his momentum and was well on top at the line, scoring by three and a quarter lengths.
First Lieutenant ran a superb race in second, with the application of headgear clearly having the desired effect. Last year’s runner-up Long Run bounced back from his fall in the Grand National at Aintree with a decent effort in third, finishing just ahead of fellow British raider Medermit.
Walsh said: “I have to thank Willie. I never thought I’d be siding with On His Own over Boston Bob, but I rode them both the other morning and I was definitely leaning On His Own’s way. “On Monday morning I was talking to Willie and he fairly convinced me to ride this lad, so thanks to him. “He ducked and I nearly fell off him (in the straight). “He was a bit deliberate at the second-last and wasn’t great at the last. “He hung left, quickened up and won.”
Nicky Henderson’s Beat That fended off the challenge of Don Poli in a pulsating climax to the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle.
Beat That was all the rage for the three-mile Grade One as the 11-8 favourite following an impressive victory on his debut over the distance at Aintree.
Barry Geraghty cut a confident figure in the saddle rounding the home turn, with Ruby Walsh far more animated aboard the Willie Mullins-trained Don Poli.
However, the latter dug deep for pressure and there was almost nothing to chose between the pair jumping the final flight. The duo settled down for a thrilling tussle and it was Beat That who won the argument by three-quarters of a length.
Don Poli, winner of the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, gave everything in second, with Lots Of Memories third.
The disappointment of the race was Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle winner Very Wood, who faded tamely in the straight after racing up with the pace.
Master Oscar coped with very different conditions to record a Punchestown Festival success in the opening race, the Martinstown Opportunity Series Final Handicap Hurdle.
Christy Roche’s gelding had won on bottomless going at Limerick a month and it was far quicker underfoot on a chilly afternoon in Co Kildare.
Jody McGarvey rode a patient race, tracking through along the inside from the rear of the field and besting the ever-present Flatfoot Boogie by half a length.
“I wouldn’t say it was a big plan, everyone wants to have a runner at Punchestown,” Roche said of the 14-1 chance.
“He’s a big, strong horse and I’ve always thought he’d jump a fence. He wants soft ground and I took a chance today.”
Liz Doyle looked relieved to see Le Vent D’Antan show his very best in the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle.
The highly-respected Wexford trainer had struggled with her stable star after running him in last year’s Champion Bumper at Cheltenham and he had only managed to collect in one of four previous starts over hurdles.
The 3-1 joint-favourite was on song for Davy Russell, brushing off the challenge of Cheltenian and eventually coming six lengths clear.
“He had a huge blow after Fairyhouse last time and I’ve really got stuck into him for this,” Doyle said.
“That’ll be his last run over hurdles, and Davy said he’ll be a stone better over fences.
“He was rotten with ulcers and I figured out he wants more than two miles. It’s lovely to finish here on a good note.”
Shaneshill, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Jamie Codd, won the Attheraces.com Champion INH Flat Race.
1st Master Oscar (JS Mcgarvey ) 14/1
2nd Flatfoot Boogie (BR Dalton) 20/1
3rd Go Paddy Go (MP Burke ) 16/1
4th Memories Of Milan (MG Nolan) 20/1
5th Highbrow Blue (SA Shortall) 3/1
1st Le Vent Dantan (DN Russell) 3/1
2nd Emperor Of Exmoor (MA Enright) 16/1
3rd Cheltenian (R Johnson) 3/1
1st Beat That (B J Geraghty) 11/8
2nd Don Poli (R Walsh) 11/4
3rd Lots Of Memories (SE Butler) 7/1
1st Boston Bob (R Walsh) 5/2
2nd First Lieutenant (BJ Geraghty) 5/1
3rd Long Run (Mr S Waley-C) 6/1