Mullins take title lead after amazing day – latest from second day of 2018 Irish National Hunt Festival at Punchestown

  
 
PUNCHESTOWN FESTIVAL RACE NEWS SERVICE
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25, 2018
 
MULLINS TAKE TITLE LEAD AFTER AMAZING DAY
Willie Mullins finished day two of the Punchestown Festival as a long odds-on favourite to retain the trainers’ championship after amazingly winning six of the day’s seven races. Mullins is now €48,161 ahead of Gordon Elliott, having begun the afternoon €405,839 behind.
A victory for 11/2 chance Patricks Park in the day’s penultimate contest, the Grade A GUINNESS HANDICAP CHASE, saw Mullins first take the lead in the title race.
 
“I didn’t expect to be in front on Saturday, let alone on Wednesday,” said Mullins. “It’s been a fantastic day and everybody has been getting a slice of the cake, which is great.
 
“On the last day everything that could go wrong did with Patricks Park, it was a complete disaster, but everything went right today. Paul (Townend) said the horse was idling but kept pulling out more when they came to him. I thought he was beaten maybe at the second last, he appeared up there very easily and I thought ‘right, that’s it, run over’ but he just kept pulling it out. The Galway Plate would be a possibility but he does like some dig in the ground.
 
“It has been an extraordinary day. It is like fantasy racing. The whole day has gone by so quickly. We came here today under a little bit of a cloud, and what a reply from Paul and all the jockeys and the horses. It is absolutely tremendous. Punchestown has been good to us and today has been extraordinary.”
 
Townend added: “A treble at the Punchestown Festival is unreal. Patricks Park was tough in fairness, although Philip [Enright on Blast Of Koeman] was going to lay down a big challenge. My horse wanted it and every time they came to me, he pulled it out.
 
“I thought Philip was coming to challenge but at the same time, my horse wasn’t doing a whole lot in front. I was in front plenty soon but in fairness to Rachel (Blackmore), she said after she won on him in Leopardstown that he nearly needed two-and-a-half and she was spot on.
 
“The support from the crowd is brilliant. The racing gang really do come together when you are down. I havea good team behind me and a rock-solid man in Willie.”
On Next Destination’s earlier success, Townend added: “I thought that was a huge performance out of him today because things did not really go perfectly for us throughout the race. He showed a lot of will to win.”
Mullins had added a third Grade 1 success to an unforgettable afternoon for his stable when Tornado Flyer (12/1) spearheaded a 1-2-3 for the Co Carlow handler in the RACING POST CHAMPION INH FLAT RACE FOR THE CONYNGHAM CUP.
Richie Deegan partnered the winner, who finished a length and a quarter ahead of Blackbow (Mr Patrick Mullins, 9/4 Fav) with Carefully Selected (Mr Derek O’Connor, 4/1) another length and three-quarters behind in third.
 
“At different times in the straight, any of the three of them could have won,” said Mullins. “Richie minded what he had in the tank and played his card at the right time. All three bumper horses will be nice novices for next season. Richie rode a winner for me at Listowel a couple of years ago and he’s a guy that has impressed me. It’s rare that we need to bring in an amateur as we have Patrick (Mullins) and Katie (Walsh) on the team.”
Richie Deegan added: “I can’t thank Patrick, especially, Willie and the owners enough for giving me the chance. It’s great. I went in Sunday morning to have a sit on Tornado Flyer. I live with Patrick and he mentioned last week that we might have one for you. I rode this lad Sunday morning and was kind of thinking that I would like him to be the one.
 
“I got away nice, right where I wanted just behind Patrick, but Tornado Flyer was flat out the whole way. Turning out the back, I was riding to be placed but when he turned into the straight, he kept finding and finding. He got a gap up the middle and won well in the end.
 
“He’s a great horse. We went a proper gallop and I was flat out the whole way tracking Patrick (on Blackbow) and even before we turned in, I was just thinking ‘I’ll get tired, just hold on’ but halfway up the straight I kind of knew I was finding (more) and Patrick and Derek were just stopping.  It was brilliant, I’m delighted.”
The icing on the cake for Mullins came when Coolrevy justified 7/4 favouritism when winning the concluding Grade 3 WEATHERBYS GENERAL STUD BOOK IRISH EBF MARES FLAT RACE with the trainer’s son Patrick in the saddle.
CROWD
 
Today’s attendance was 19,073, compared to 19,366 on the same day last year.
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