Supa-Friday for Harrington



An exciting 2018 Punchestown Festival continued on Friday evening, April 27, with an eventful Grade 1 BETDAQ 2% COMMISSION PUNCHESTOWN CHAMPION HURDLE. Market leaders Samcro (Gordon Elliott/Jack Kennedy, 5/6 Fav) and Melon (Willie Mullins/Paul Townend, 11/4), respectively trained by title rivals Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins, independently fell three out.


The Jessica Harrington-trained Supasundae (7/1) was staying on at the time and was left second to Wicklow Brave (Willie Mullins/Mr Patrick Mullins, 12/1). He went to the front before the last and won by three and a quarter lengths under Robbie Power.


“I don’t know whether we were lucky but we were upsides the other two when they fell. We would have stayed on as well,” said Harrington. “He came here having been to Cheltenham and Aintree so he’s a tough horse.


“He was flat to the boards all the way but he’s been running over shorter distances. This ground wasn’t perfect for him but he can cope with soft. The three of them were upsides when the two came down and Supasundae came into his own on the rising ground. He’s a horse that could put in five bad runs then can come back and have a real going day. I thought he was totally brilliant today.”


Power added: “I saw Samcro had fallen but I didn’t know that Melon had gone. If you’ve not got a ticket, you can’t win. He’s a true gent and Martina, who looks after him, does a wonderful job. He’s a gorgeous horse who does everything to please. I’ll have to talk nicely to the Potts when he retires to see if my wife can have him as a hack.


“When you look back at it, myself and Jessie probably got it wrong and maybe Supasundae should have run in the Champion Hurdle in Cheltenham. His jumping kept him in it today. For a horse that couldn’t jump when we got him, he has got very, very good at it. He jumped super the whole way.


“I felt going to the third last that Melon was definitely flat to the boards, and I was starting close in on Samcro – maybe he was flat out too and that is why he fell.


“We will never know the answer to it and my horse deserved a bit of luck. He has been ultra-consistent and has not been out of the first three whilst competing in G1 races all season. He is a credit to his owners and his trainer. He is a fabulous horse.”


Harrington’s runners had been knocking on the door all week and she first made the scoresheet when Magic Of Light (6/1) was headed by Goodthynemilan (Gordon Elliott/Davy Russell, 16/1) before passing her in the closing strides to get up by a length and a half in the Grade B HANLON CONCRETE IRISH EBF GLENCARRAIG LADY FRANCIS FLOOD HANDICAP CHASE.


“I was getting very worried about leaving Punchestown without a winner, it’s my local track,” said Harrington. “And I think it’s absolutely fantastic what Willie (Mullins) has done to have all those horses in such good form. They’ve nearly all run up to form. What he’s done just makes me want to try harder. This mare may not be top-class but she’s very, very brave and she stays. We put a pair of cheekpieces on her because Robert (Power) said that at Fairyhouse she just didn’t travel.”


Power added: ”She’s an honest mare and gave me everything. I let Mark (Enright on Goodthynemilan) go on and I thought I’d have another crack at them after the last as she’s very game. She likes that ground as well.”       


A good week for the Supreme Horse Racing Club continued when their colours were carried to victory by joint top-weight Kemboy (11/4 Fav) in the EMS COPIERS NOVICE HANDICAP CHASE. The victory accentuated Willie Mullins’ lead in the trainers’ championship and brought more success for jockey Paul Townend.


 “Kemboy had a lot of weight but I thought he was open to a bit of improvement after his good run in Cheltenham, and the way he travelled through the race was brilliant,” said Townend.


“I got away well and jumped the first two well, which left me in a nice position. He was good and smart the whole way round. He was well within his comfort zone and stuck at it well.


 “He is brilliant jumper, although he does have his own way of doing it. He has figured it out this far so we will leave him to it.”


Trainer Peter Maher likes nothing more than a winner at Punchestown and he was celebrating after Alpha Male (2/1) rewarded his supporters with a 30-length success in the KFM HUNTERS CHASE FOR THE BISHOPSCOURT CUP.


“It’s not a Banks race but it will do!,” said Maher. “I love Punchestown and winners here are always a surprise – I never thought that Enniskillen would have fallen earlier in the week but they have to be jumped. It doesn’t matter if you have a good horse, they have to be able to jump.”


Jockey Barry O’Neill added: “It’s a very nice prize to win and he did it very nicely. I probably got there too soon but the race fell apart a little bit and he just landed there. I am delighted for Peter because he is local to here and it’s a big thing for him to get a winner here. This was the plan all along since Peter and Hamish (Macauley) bought him, so it has worked out.”

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