All the news from the final day of the Punchestown Festival -Grade 1 double heads record 13 winners for Mullins



Herefordshire-trainer Richard Lee brought over two runners to Punchestown this week. Gassin Gold finished second in the Louis Fitzgerald Hurdle on Wednesday while Grey Gold (6/1) prevailed in today’s MADRA IRISH DOG FOODS NOVICE CHASE.


The field was reduced to three runners and that was cut to two when Aupcharlie came down at the last fence to leave Grey Gold to win by 37 lengths.


“Gassin Golf horse would have won if he jumped the last OK on Wednesday so it has been worth coming over,” said Lee. “They came over last Sunday and Grey Gold came for the soft ground, which fortunately he got. He’s a straightforward horse and the race fell to bits a little toda. You’d think he’ll want further and should easily get two and a half miles next season


“They have been stabled at Brendan Duke’s yard and we have used the Curragh facilities, which have been great.


“My only other runner at Punchestown was Macgeorge 13 years ago and I decided to come when Punchestown sent me the brochure and I picked out these two races. It was a gamble because we needed soft ground but it has worked well. I’m driving the lorry back tonight but it will shorten the trip home!”


Aupcharlie’s rider Andrew Lynch was replaced by Katie Walsh aboard Carrig Millie in the THREE PAT TAAFFE HANDICAP CHASE and the mare prevailed at 18/1 for CountyWexford handler Michael Cullen.


Sizing Australia (12/1) held off a fast-finishing Zest For Life to prevail by a short-head in the opening IRISH FIELD CHASE to the delight of trainer Henry de Bromhead.


“It’s super and I’m delighted for the horse. He’s always placed and running well in these races and, at the age of 11, both he and Sizing Europe seem to be as good as ever if not almost improving,” said de Bromhead. “It was a great ride by Andrew (Lynch) and I thought he was caught.”




The unstoppable Willie Mullins finished the 2013 Punchestown Festival with 13 winners, beating his own record of 12 achieved in 2009 and 2010.


Including victories in Britain, France and Japan, Mullins has now saddled over 200 winners this season and he enjoyed an amazing Grade 1 1-2-3-4 in the AES CHAMPION FOUR YEAR OLD HURDLE as Evens favourite Diakali led home stablemates Blood Cotil, Dogora and Djakadam.


“It’s down to the whole team at home,” said Mullins. “And when Champagne Fever got beaten on the first day and we were then something like one winner from 10 starters we were just a bit worried.


“But rather than being over the top I think I had given them too much of an easy time so just did a little faster work with them the next morning and it paid off.”


Speaking of Diakali, Mullins said: “He’s just a very free, keen horse and we put the hood on him and that helped. It has taught him to settle at home and I think there is going to be a lot more to come from him.”


Mullins had another Grade 1 success Glens Melody (7/2) captured the first Grade 1 running of the ITBA FILLIES SCHEME EUROPEAN BREEDERS FUND MARES HURDLE.


“That was a nice surprise,” said Mullins, who also saddled the 4/7 favourite Tarla to finish only fourth of the five runners. “But she has improved all year and was stronger since her last start at Fairyhouse. She showed a turn of foot today that I didn’t think she had.


“Her owner (Fiona McStay) has a nice breeding operation and I’ll have a word with her about what she’d like to do. The mare is now a Grade 1 winner so very valuable and I doubt she’ll go chasing, it may be that Fiona would like to breed from her now.


“Ruby wasn’t keen to go off in front on Tarla and he thought that she would have enough flat speed to finish but she just ran a bit flat and couldn’t make up the ground.”


Win number 13 came when Ruby Walsh steered The Paparrazi Kid (7/1) to land a competitive renewal of the SETANTA SPORTS HANDICAP HURDLE.




An attendance of 24,254 today (compared to 25,146 in 2012) saw the total 2013 Punchestown Festival crowd hit six figures this year. There was a total attendance of 101,745 over the five days, compared to 91,513 in the rain-affected 2012. The 2011 total was 95,061.


Dick O’Sullivan, Punchestown’s General Manager, commented: “It’s been magic. We were going for 100,000 this year and a Festival to put the fight and the spirit back into us because last year nearly downed us. We put a lot of work into it last year and it all got washed away in a few days but this year we are back.


“Tuesday, with Sprinter Sacre, set the tone for everything and it was probably the most magnificent day’s racing here that a lot of people more qualified to comment than me ever saw. Nicky Henderson said to me before he left that it was the most emotional and enjoyable day that he will always remember for the rest of his life. It was wonderful to see the reception and welcome the crowd gave the horse here.


“It was also fantastic to see Hurricane Fly and Quevega record fourth victories in the Rabobank Champion Hurdle and Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle respectively.


“We had good entries at the beginning from Britain and they transferred to runners and winners too, which is good to see.


“Today has been a real winner. It has been great to see all the kids here this afternoon and it’s a family day – our biggest problem has been getting the prams through the gates! We’ll have to have special gates next year.”

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