Bachasson keeps up Mullins’ winning streak

Bachasson rounded off a fantastic end to 2020 for Willie Mullins when completing a New Year’s Eve double for the champion trainer at Punchestown.

The Closutton handler racked up a staggering tally of 16 winners in the space of four days at Leopardstown and Limerick – with Sharjah, Monkfish and Chacun Pour Soi among his six Grade One heroes.

The feature event on the final day of the year was the Punchestown Hurdle, a race Mullins had won in each of the three previous years, including with Bachasson in 2018.

The grey was the 30-100 favourite to repeat the feat in the hands of champion jockey Paul Townend, having made a successful start to his campaign in the Clonmel Oil Chase in mid-November.

Those who took the prohibitive odds can have had few concerns, with Bachasson leading from flag-fall and cruising to a six-and-a-half-length verdict over stablemate Scarpeta.

Mullins said: “I was hoping he’d jump a bit better, but Paul said he was just idle out in front on his own.

“We’ll mix it between hurdles and fences for the rest of the season, and we’ll probably keep him down the country over fences.

“He’s not a big horse, but it’s the size of the heart that counts and not the size of the horse.”

Mullins had earlier saddled 10-1 shot Stones And Roses to win the Home Of The Placepot Handicap Chase, with Brian Hayes the winning rider this time.

“He’s improving and is a real old-fashioned staying chaser. Extended trips are what he likes, and he jumps for fun,” said Mullins.

“He’ll probably come back here for the Grand National Trial.

“I’m delighted to give Brian a winner. He’s an integral part of our yard for schooling and riding work.”

Longhouse Poet returns to the Punchestown winner's enclosure
Longhouse Poet returns to the Punchestown winner’s enclosure (Alan Magee/PA)

Longhouse Poet opened his account over fences with a determined display in the Join With A 10 Euro Risk Free Bet Beginners Chase.

Placed twice at Grade One level in novice hurdles last season, behind Envoi Allen and Latest Exhibition, the Yeats gelding disappointed on his chasing bow here in October before finishing second and third in successive races at Naas.

Martin Brassil’s charge was a 100-30 chance for his latest assignment under Mark Walsh, and dug deep from the home turn to get the better of a protracted duel with Run Wild Fred by a length and a half.

“He’s a horse that we always thought would need a trip, and he handles the ground. He had the experience from his few runs over fences – and he was fit,” said Brassil.

“He’s not a Grade One horse, so we may look at novice handicaps in the spring over an extended trip.”

Riviere D'Etel in the snow at Punchestown
Riviere D’Etel in the snow at Punchestown (Alan Magee/PA)

French recruit Riviere D’Etel made a successful Irish debut for Gordon Elliott in the Tote Supporting Punchestown 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle.

Runner-up in a Listed event at Auteuil on her latest competitive appearance in September, the daughter of Martaline comfortably landed prohibitive odds of 8-15 in the hands of Jack Kennedy.

The jockey said: “She’s going to have to step up in class now, but she couldn’t have done any more today.”

Elliott doubled up in the bumper with the Jamie Codd-ridden Humble Glory (9-4).

Jessica Harrington and Sean O’Keeffe combined to land the Tote Supporting Irish Racing Handicap Hurdle with Wingin A Prayer (3-1), while the Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Hurdle went to John Morrison’s Danegeld (7-1), ridden by Mike O’Connor.

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