Sir Des Champs makes victorious return to action
Dual Cheltenham Festival winner shows some of his old class to claim Listed event
Bryan Cooper: “He’s an exciting three-mile chaser to have again. He gave me the feeling that the spark is still there.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Sir Des Champs made a successful return from a near-two-year absence at Thurles on Thursday. A dual Cheltenham Festival winner and runner-up to Bobs Worth in the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup, the nine-year-old had been sidelined by injury since finishing fourth behind the same horse in that year’s Lexus Chase.
Willie Mullins’ charge was nonetheless the 11-10 favourite as he enjoyed a significant drop in grade for the 2¾-mile Listed event.
However, the picture changed significantly from the home turn and with Rubi Light’s earlier exertions beginning to take their toll, the Mullins runner reeled him in and picked up from the final fence to score by two and three-quarter lengths.
Cooper said: “We said beforehand he was going to need the run and he was asleep early doors . . . “What I loved was when he turned out the back he really got into gear and showed there’s still life in him, definitely.
“He’s an exciting three-mile chaser to have again. He gave me the feeling that the spark is still there.”
Mullins said: “I’m very happy with that. He loves racing like that and it took him a mile and a half, or two miles, to warm up.
“That’s his style of racing and he gives much more on the final third of his races.
“He hasn’t given me a moment’s worry since he came back but I didn’t work him for this race.
“He’s in everything, but the John Durkan (Punchestown) might come too soon. He’ll probably run in the Lexus next.”
Ttebbob cruised clear in the hands of Robbie Power to run out an emphatic winner of an eventful www.thurlesraces.ie Beginners Chase.
The long-absent Moyle Park was the 9-10 favourite for his chasing debut but the saddle slipped on the Willie Mullins-trained gelding and he was pulled up by Ruby Walsh.
It soon got worse for the champion trainer, with Net D’Ecosse coming to grief, and Jessica Harrington’s Ttebbob saw off All Hell Let Loose to seal an impressive six-length success.
Gordon Elliott’s Roman Gold reeled in fellow Gigginstown House Stud-owned runner Just Cause to take top honours in the INH Stallion Owners EBF Rated Novice Hurdle.
Bryan Cooper rousted 2-1 favourite Just Cause to the front rounding the home turn, but the Jack Kennedy-ridden Roman Gold (7-2) travelled well in behind and quickened up to take the lead approaching the final flight to win by by six lengths.
Clonmel bumper winner Myska made a seamless transition to the jumping game with an impressive display in the Thurles Mares Maiden Hurdle.
The Mullins-trained five-year-old was unsurprisingly a prohibitively priced 4-7 favourite for her hurdling bow.
Princess Lir fought on after the final hurdle, but Myska had a lot more to give as she passed the post a length and three-quarters to the good, completing doubles on the day for Mullins and Walsh .