Gigginstown plan major assault on Gold Cup

Sir Des Champs, First Lieutenant and Quito De La Roque all target Punchestown showpiece

First Lieutenant  ridden by Bryan Cooper, clears the second last fence ahead of Quito De La Roque during the Betfred Bowl at Aintree last week. Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA Wire

First Lieutenant ridden by Bryan Cooper, clears the second last fence ahead of Quito De La Roque during the Betfred Bowl at Aintree last week. Photograph: Dave Thompson/PA Wire


Gigginstown House Stud are planning a powerful three-horse assault on the Bet Online With The Punchestown Gold Cup at the Co Kildare track on April 24th.

The Willie Mullins-trained Sir Des Champs, runner-up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, heads the trio with the Aintree Bowl winner First Lieutenant from Mouse Morris’s stable and Colm Murphy’s dual Grade One scorer Quito De La Roque completing the strong team.

Gigginstown’s racing manager Eddie O’Leary said: “All going well, the plan is for Sir Des Champs to run in the Punchestown Gold Cup.

“We were second at Cheltenham and you can’t change the result but we’ll hope for a good show at Punchestown.

“There’s a good chance that First Lieutenant will run as well. It’s been all good so far with him after Aintree and the horse will line up as long as he tells us he wants to run.

“Quito De La Roque is likely to go for the race as well. We were happy enough with him at Aintree — he ran a very good race at his level and probably just wasn’t quite good enough there.”

Gigginstown House Stud, owned by his brother Michael O’Leary, are bidding for a first Irish owners’ championship this season and are currently around €200,000 ahead of JP McManus in the title race.

As the season finishes on the final day of the Punchestown Festival on April 27th, Gigginstown hope to end the campaign with a flourish.

They aim to send a big team that includes several young recruits, who are likely to be spread between the Grade One Herald Champion Novice Hurdle over two miles on April 23rd, the three-mile Grade One Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle on April 24th and the Grade One Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle over two and a half miles on April 26th.

“The plan is for Un Atout to run and he could go over two or two and a half miles, we’ll keep the options open,” said O’Leary.

“Rule The World ran very well at Cheltenham and it will be two and a half or three miles for him. Don Cossack will hopefully go for the three-mile Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle.

“Road To Riches may also run if he is OK after Aintree while Midnight Oil, who won on Monday, could also line up as could Cops And Robbers.”

If underfoot conditions are suitable, soft ground-loving Tofino Bay, trained by Dessie Hughes, will go for the Grade One Growise Champion Novice Chase on April 23rd after finishing second in the John Oaksey National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham.

The Tony Martin-trained Dedigout is another Gigginstown novice chaser with Punchestown in his sights.

“If the ground is right Tofino Bay will run in the Growise Champion Novice Chase and Dedigout is also likely to go there but I’m not sure of his target,” said O’Leary.

Gigginstown are also eyeing the meeting’s bumpers with the Willie Mullins-trained unbeaten Outlander in line for the Grade One Betdaq The Peoples Exchange Champion INH Flat Race on April 24th.

The €100,000 Goffs Land Rover Bumper on April 23rd is likely to feature the Gordon Elliott-trained Wrath Of Titans and Metaurus, who scored between the flags for Pat Doyle at Rathmorrissey last month.

“Hopefully, we will run Outlander in the Grade One and although he looks exciting, we will find out next week and we plan to run Metaurus and Wrath Of Titans in the Goffs Land Rover Bumper,” said O’Leary.