Punchestown Festival: God’s Own holds off Vautour
Ruby Walsh couldn’t catch the winner in Vautor’s comeback after a fall at Cheltenham
God’s Own ridden by Paddy Brennan jumps the fence on his way to winning the Boylesports Champion Chase during day one of the Punchestown Festival. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
God’s Own emerged triumphant after a thrilling climax to the Boylesports Champion Chase on the opening day of the Punchestown Festival.
Tom George’s eight-year-old, a winner at the prestigious meeting two years ago, returned to Ireland following what was widely regarded as a fortuitous win in the Melling Chase at Aintree following the shock fall of the Willie Mullins-trained superstar Vautour.
The pair did battle once more in this two-mile Grade One and Vautour was unsurprisingly a warm order to get back on the winning trail as the 4-9 favourite.
With Special Tiara adopting his customary front-running role, Vautour and God’s Own sat in his slipstream, just ahead of the talented but fragile Simonsig.
The leading quartet pulled clear from the home turn and there was little to choose between all four jumping the second-last fence.
God’s Own and Simonsig looked set to fight it out jumping the final obstacle and it was Paddy Brennan’s mount who found most for pressure to claim victory by two lengths.
Vautour did stay on late in the day to grab the runner-up spot, with Simonsig running a fantastic race to finish third on his first start since November and his first outing over fences in over three years.
Brennan said: “For the first mile I had no control and I just let him go, but to be fair he came back then and I filled him up. He was awesome today.
“All credit to Richie Galway (clerk of the course) — the ground out there is probably the nicest ground I’ve ridden on this year.
“It’s great to ride a big one on my home turf. This is where I’m from and it’s a proud day.”
Earlier Tempo Mac ran out an authoritative winner of the Killashee Handicap Hurdle for trainer Gordon Elliott and jockey Luke Dempsey.
The six-year-old won four times between June and September of last year before being given the winter off and he blew away the cobwebs when sixth at Navan last month.
Sent off at 25-1 for this fiercely competitive event, Tempo Mac kept out of trouble, steering a wide course rounding the home turn.
Plenty looked to be in with a chance at the top of the straight, but Elliott’s charge was four and half lengths too good for Ancient Sands.
To Choose and Bamako Moriviere finished third and fourth respectively.