Supasundae takes dramatic Punchestown Champion Hurdle
Samcro and Melon both fall at the same fence as Jessica Harrington’s horse triumphs
Supasundae ridden by Robbie Power clears the last on their way to winning the Punchestown Champion Hurdle. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Supasundae claimed a dramatic victory after both Samcro and Melon came to grief in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle.
The previously unbeaten Samcro was the 5-6 favourite for Gordon Elliott, stepping out of novice company the first time, with the Willie Mullins-trained Melon widely regarded as his biggest threat after pushing Buveur D’Air all the way in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Last year’s winner Wicklow Brave, also trained by Mullins, cut out much of the running under the trainer’s son, Patrick, and remained in front approaching the third flight from home.
From that point Robbie Power took dead aim at Wicklow Brave aboard Jessica Harrington’s Irish Champion Hurdle winner Supasundae and the 7-1 shot powered clear for a decisive three-and-a-quarter-length success.
Wicklow Brave was a clear second ahead of another Mullins inmate Bleu Berry in third.
Power said: “I saw Samcro fall, I didn’t know Melon had fallen, but if you don’t buy a ticket, you don’t win.”
Harrington said: “Maybe we got lucky there, but he was going very well when the other two fell, and as soon as he got to the front, he started to pull himself up.
“He’s had an unbelievable season, when you think of what he’s done. He’s a horse that went to Cheltenham, Aintree and finished second in both those places, and then on to win here. He has put in some great performances, he’s a great horse.”
Kemboy provided Mullins with yet another winner following a comprehensive victory in the EMS Copiers Novice Handicap Chase.
Fourth in the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, the six-year-old only made it as far as the first fence in the Irish Grand National but bounced back to win a Grade Three at Limerick just a fortnight ago.
Despite the burden of joint top-weight, Townend’s mount was a heavily-backed 11-4 favourite for this €100,000 handicap and travelled powerfully on the heels of the leaders for much of the two-mile-five-furlong journey.
A Rated gave the market leader a lead into the home straight, but Kemboy soon took his measure and powered clear for a five-length success.
Townend said: “He had a lot of weight, but I thought he was open to some improvement and had a good run at Cheltenham. He travelled through the race brilliantly.
“He has his own way of jumping and has figured it out this far, so we’ll leave him at it.
“You’d imagine he could step back into graded company again now.”
Alpha Male was a dominant winner of the opening KFM Hunters Chase for the Bishopscourt Cup.
Last year’s winner and 7-4 favourite Das Mooser set out to make all the running, but was no match for Alpha Male from the home turn, with Peter Maher’s 2-1 shot ultimately passing the post 30 lengths clear under Barry O’Neill.
Magic Of Light displayed tremendous courage to battle back and claim top honours in the Hanlon Concrete Irish EBF Glencarraig Lady Francis Flood Mares Handicap Chase.
The seven-year-old was a 6-1 chance to provide Harrington and Power with their first winner of the Festival, but she looked set for minor honours when Elliott’s Goodthynemilan swept by after jumping the second fence from the finish.
However, Goodthynemilan’s petrol tank emptied quickly and Magic Of Light showed a willing attitude to get back up and score by a length and a half.
Elliott also saddled the third home Synopsis, who was sent off the 4-1 favourite.
Harrington said: “Going to the last I thought ‘oh no, we’re going to be second again’. They have been running brilliantly all week but the ground has just been a bit soft for all of them and I thought it was a bit soft for her, but she did it for me.”
Reflecting on the week as a whole, the trainer added: “What Willie has done has been absolutely fantastic – to have all those horses in such good form. It makes me want to try harder.”