All the news from day 4 of the Punchestown Festival – Hurricane Fly at very best



There was a local victory in the AON NOVICE HANDICAP CHASE when Madam Bovary, owned and bred by former Punchestown chairman Dermot Cox and trained by Jessica Harrington, relished the underfoot conditions to score by five and a half lengths. Despite a 20/1 starting price, the victory did not come as a shock to the winning trainer.


“The more it rained this morning, the happier I got,” said Harrington. “She won here in January and I said to Dermot we would come back for this race. Afterwards she fell at Thurles, wouldn’t go left-handed at Naas and then the ground was too quick for her at Fairyhouse – she couldn’t keep up with them. She loved that mud today and was brilliant.


“Robbie (Power) got down to 10st 3lb and she had a lovely weight. Being at the right end of the handicap makes a big difference in this ground.


“She is out of an old mare that won here for Dermot. It means a lot to him to have owned and bred a winner here.”


Cox added: “To have a winner here means everything to me – apart from my wife and family there is nothing that is more important. Thanks to Jessie for persevering with this mare.”


Trainer Jim Dreaper believes that Goonyella (13/2), winner of the BREAKFAST WITH HECTOR ON 2FM HANDICAP CHASE, could have a big future after his victory in the colours of Ann and Alan Potts.


“He has a great attitude and I think he might win a National one day,” said Dreaper. “He stays all day and will have a holiday now. Chepstow might be a good starting place for him next season. It’s not that he needs heavy ground but it slows the others down.”


A day after Big Shu won the Avon Ri Corporate & Leisure Resort Chase for the La Touche Cup, trainer Peter Maher was celebrating again when Johnies Star (14/1) won the opening KFM HUNTERS CHASE FOR THE BISHOPSCOURT STUD,


“I didn’t think lightning could strike twice but it has done,” said Maher. “I’m surprised because I fancied my other runner, Enniskillen, more but the ground got him.”




Hurricane Fly won his fourth consecutive Grade 1 RABOBANK CHAMPION HURDLE in brilliant fashion when coasting home to beat stablemate Thousand Stars by seven lengths. British raider Rock On Ruby, winner of the 2011 Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, finished third.


“Hurricane Fly has proved himself again today. He did it nicely and everything went according to plan. Rock On Ruby tried to settle it with a manoeuvre coming around the final bend but Ruby was just cool and calm on our fellow,” said trainer Willie Mullins.


“He can handle any going conditions. Last Saturday, he and Quevega worked and they blew me away. The work was as good as I’d ever seen and we have just kept our fingers crossed all week that it was as good as it looked.


“Thousand Stars made the running then Rock On Ruby tried to make the decisive move on the home turn but Ruby waited to take advantage in the home straight.


“Hurricane Fly hasn’t many miles on the clock and we will just mind him for next season. You are always scared of younger horses coming through. They can improve by a few pounds or even a stone whereas our fellow isn’t going to improve any more.”


Ruby Walsh added: “Today he was in some nick and the English have never seen him at his best at Cheltenham. He’s just an incredible horse – so professional and so accurate. He won ugly at Cheltenham but his win was classy today.


“I could have stayed behind your man (Rock On Ruby) and won by a length on the bridle if I’d wanted. But he came alive turning in and got a great reception from the crowd, but it was what he deserved.”

A fantastic week for Mullins continued when Un Atout battled hard to pass the Gary Moore-trained Ubak to capture the Grade 1 TATTERSALLS IRELAND CHAMPION NOVICE HURDLE under Davy Russell.


“He’s a three-parts brother to Sir Des Champs and tough is their middle name,” said Mullins. “I was surprised the others didn’t make the running but I wasn’t worried because he does some of his best work from the front at home.


“His feet are not the best and he missed a couple of days with a stone bruise and I was worried that might affect him.


“I loved the way he came back at them and my French connections tell me he could be better than Sir Des Champs one day. He’s going to be a staying novice chaser rather than a two-miler next season.


“Davy was very, very good. We hadn’t discussed that he might have to make the running but he’s about to become a twice-champion so I don’t need to give instructions.”


Today’s attendance was 26.360, compared to 27,219 on the same day 12 months ago.

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