Identity Thief debuts over fences at Punchestown

Appearance of star chaser in the making is eagerly anticipated, as veteran Moscow Flyer’s death is confirmed

Barry Geraghty and Moscow Flyer in action at Aintree. The former champion chaser has died of colic at the age of 22. Photograph: Julian Herbert/Getty Images

Barry Geraghty and Moscow Flyer in action at Aintree. The former champion chaser has died of colic at the age of 22. Photograph: Julian Herbert/Getty Images

 

The Grade 1 winning hurdler Identity Thief makes his eagerly anticipated debut over fences at Punchestown on Saturday, 15 years almost to the day since Moscow Flyer’s own dramatic first chasing start.

On Friday came confirmation from the Irish National Stud that the great former two-mile champion chaser had died due to a colic, aged 22.

He was described by his trainer Jessica Harrington as a “horse of a lifetime”.

She added: “People forget how good a hurdler he was. He was winning Grade 1s around the time of Istabraq. He was very smart, but completely different over fences.”

Nevertheless, Moscow Flyer’s first start over the bigger obstacles didn’t augur well – with a fall at Fairyhouse – and Identity Thief’s trainer Henry de Bromhead will hope he has a much less dramatic start to his new career.

Last season’s Fighting Fifth winner teams up with the Grand National winning rider David Mullins for the first time, and anything but a smooth Beginners Chase success will be a surprise.

Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown Stud team is also strongly represented in the other Beginners Chase, with Disko looking an interesting contender.

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