French import Storm Heart looks smart at Punchestown

Willie Mullins’ Storm Heart made an impressive Irish debut when running away with the 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle at Punchestown.

The gelding was a Flat winner in France before changing hands to join Mullins for Gigginstown House Stud.

Punchestown was his first run on Irish turf and, under Paul Townend, he was the 2-5 favourite in an 11-runner affair.

He travelled well throughout and was much the best, strolling easily clear to secure an unchallenged 22-length victory.

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“It was a very good introduction, I didn’t expect that,” Mullins said.

“I was hoping he was all right, but he’s more than all right looking at that performance.

“Paul thought he was very brave too, as he got blinded at one or two hurdles. He lost his confidence for one or two but got it back. He took them on and he loves jumping.

“I would have said coming here there was huge improvement in him, and I hope there is.

“He’s probably good enough to go wherever we wanted.”

Henry de Bromhead’s Monty’s Star got off the mark over fences when winning the Download The New Tote App Beginners Chase.

The six-year-old was a Grade Three winner over hurdles and graduated to the larger obstacles this season, starting out in a competitive beginners chase at Fairyhouse, where he was third behind Corbetts Cross and Three Card Brag.

The latter horse was also entered at Punchestown and went off the 4-11 favourite, as Monty’s Star was a 9-4 chance under Rachael Blackmore.

Three Card Brag led for much of the race but did not always jump fluently, whereas Monty’s Star gained ground with every fence and eventually came out on top after a tussle in the home straight.

“Jumping is his biggest asset and even though it’s tough ground to jump out of, he did it well,” said Blackmore.

“He stayed on and galloped out well to the line. We didn’t go a mad gallop, but it was a good performance on tough ground. He’s improved from the last day.”

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Clonmeen took the Tote, Never Beaten By SP Handicap Chase for rider Simon Torrens and trainer William Murphy.

The 4-1 chance was back in fine spirits after a spell under the weather since scoring at Down Royal seven weeks ago and prevailed by a head in the three-mile event.

Murphy said: “The horses were all sick for about six weeks and it’s great to see them back in form.

“That was tight for comfort, but it was a tough performance, and the main thing is he won.

“We might think about something like the National Trial back here.”

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