Punchestown Festival in pictures: Mullins mixed bag, Geraghty glory


Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | April 30, 2016

The Punchestown Festival took centre stage in horse racing this week with it announcing the end of the jumps season in the British Isles.

Five days of compelling action from the home of Irish National Hunt racing had thrills and spills, and plenty of surprises.

As we’re proud to be commercial partners of Punchestown, Coral celebrate the Festival in photos…

Day One: Terrible Tuesday for Mullins

Having lost out on the British National Hunt Trainers’ Championship to Paul Nicholls, Willie Mullins sent many of his lauded stable stars to Punchestown hoping to gain compensation.

The competition had other ideas, however, and the County Carlow handler’s three favourites failed to deliver on the opening day of the Irish National Hunt Festival.

Yorkhill Don’t Touch It in Herald Champion Novice

Despite an erratic run en route to victory at Aintree’s Grand National meeting earlier in the month, Yorkhill was sent off odds-on to capture the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle.

Mullins’ horse flopped, making a mistake two from home and never recovered finishing fourth, as Don’t Touch It with Barry Geraghty on board took this Grade 1 contest by half-a-length from Yorkhill stablemate Petit Mouchoir.

Vaunted Vautour beaten by God’s Own

Vautour fell in the Melling Chase at Aintree, having previously romped to Ryanair Chase glory at the Cheltenham Festival, and the horse who capitalised on that was Paddy Brennan mount God’s Own.

Mullins’ chaser stayed on his feet this time when contesting the Champion Chase, but couldn’t catch God’s Own who grabbed another Grade 1 success here. Vautour hung on for second ahead of Simonsig.

Outlander outpaced by Zabana

The Growise Champion Novice Chase was the other prestige race on day one, and yet again Mullins was thwarted. Davy Russell piloted Zabana to victory here, with a flat out run in the closing stages that the much-fancied Outlander simply couldn’t match.

Day Two: Gold Cup glory for Geraghty

Without a doubt, the centrepiece of this Festival is the Punchestown Gold Cup. Cheltenham equivalent winner Don Cossack’s withdrawal left the field wide open on Wednesday…

Bellshill allows Mullins to bounce back

Belatedly, a Mullins favourite delivered with Sefton Novices’ Hurdle runner-up Bellshill making a winning end to the season by taking the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle.

McManus and Carlingford has last Lough on Gold Cup rivals

With Don Cossack pulling out, that left Colin Tizzard’s Cue Card as favourite for the day two feature ahead of Mullins duo Djakadam and Don Poli, but Geraghty on board JP McManus owned Carlingford Lough shocked all the race principals to capture the Punchestown Gold Cup.

Cavalier approach from Curtis pays off in Guinness Handicap

An equally competitive Guinness Handicap Chase followed and Rebecca Curtis saddled Irish Cavalier to Grade A success.

Day Three: Belongs to Douvan

You’ll be hard pressed to find a more impressive 2m chaser than Mullins’ Douvan, who made his bid to complete a flawless campaign with a sixth successive win on Thursday by going in the Ryanair Novice Chase…

Quantitativeeasing up for the La Touchie Cup

Josies Orders’ withdrawal from the Cross Country Chase allowed Enda Bolger’s Quantitativeeasing to make a move before the third last and run on to take this endurance test, with the trainer also saddling the second home, Cantlow.

One Track Mind proves best of rest in Stayers Hurdle

All-conquering Tizzard 3m hurdler Thistlecrack pulling out of Punchestown was one of the biggest blows in the build-up to this Festival, but created an opportunity for his rivals to get some end of season glory.

Bryan Cooper and Mouse Morris teamed up for favourite Alpha Des Obeaux, but all the French gelding could manage was third – beaten by One Track Mind from Warren Greatrex’s yard and also finished behind Jennies Jewel.

Douvan destroys those foolish enough to oppose

And so to Douvan, the undefeated Mullins machine. No horse has come within seven lengths of him this season. Just let that sink in.

Deadly Douvan demonstrated yet again why he has dominated the 2m chasing division this term, bolting up by 11 lengths to add the Ryanair Novice Chase to his collection of victories. The sky’s the limit for Mullins and connections!

Day Four: Hunter Chase steals headlines

Friday was a day for favourites in the feature races, but none more so than On The Fringe, whose chasing credentials once again led him to the winners’ enclosure for all to see…

Mullins mare Vroum Vroum Mag captures Champion Hurdle crown

Annie Power’s absence was a shame, but super sub Vroum Vroum Mag made sure Mullins still secured the Punchestown Champion Hurdle, staying on well to beat Identity Thief and My Tent Or Yours. What a magnificent mare!

Jer’s the Girl for Geraghty in Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle

Everyone liked the look of McManus horse Jer’s Girl to take the Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle, and Geraghty did the steering to ensure more Grade 1 success for the powerful owner.

Fringe benefits on show in Hunter Chase

You run out of superlatives when talking about On The Fringe. Bolger’s best kept secret is simply the best hunter chaser for decades. He completed the Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown treble again.

Day Five: Mullins ends on Grade 1 highs

If Tuesday proved terrible for Mullins, then Saturday saw him scoop success in the two big races…

Whiteout for Limini in Mares match-up

A one-two for the County Carlow handler with Whiteout surprisingly beating favourite Limini into first place brought plenty of prize money into Mullins’ yard from the Mares Champion Hurdle.

Jade polishing 4YO Apple’s

Apple’s Jade incredibly made all to land the Champion Four Year Old Hurdle. Mullins saddled the first two home again here, with Let’s Dance beating Ivanovich Gorbatov into third.

Anibale Fly captures Coral Handicap

Geraghty had yet another winner on Anibale in the Coral Handicap Hurdle to round off a fantastic Punchestown Festival for McManus.


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