Gordon Elliott looks to have another smart juvenile on his hands in the shape of Pied Piper following his winning debut at Punchestown.
Elliott already houses the Triumph Hurdle favourite in Fil Dor and sporting the same red and white Caldwell Construction Ltd silks, the former John and Thady Gosden inmate showed he is also likely to be a force to be reckoned with.
Up against the Willie Mullins-trained favourite Vauban, the two had it between them from some way out in the Join Tote.ie 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle.
Owned by the Queen on the Flat, Pied Piper was sold for 225,000 guineas and always appeared to be travelling better than the market leader, who to his credit closed all the way to the line to only be beaten half a length, with the pair 15 clear of the remainder.
Betfair and Paddy Power introduced the winner into the Triumph betting at 14-1.
“He’s a nice horse and I think there is an awful amount of improvement in him. I couldn’t see him winning today and he hasn’t even been away from home,” said Elliott.
“He jumped well and probably travelled a bit too well early. He loved the ground and is one to look forward to. He’s a big baby.”
Elliott doubled up with Harmonya Maker in the closing bumper, with the filly getting a 16-1 quote from Paddy Power for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.
“She’s a nice mare and one for the future. She might be one for Leopardstown or Fairyhouse, we have those options and she could be one to run in a graded hurdle and then put away for next year,” said Elliott.
There was a pleasing return to form for Gavin Cromwell’s Darver Star (6-1) who was a wide-margin winner of the Tote+ Pays You More On Tote.ie Hurdle.
Yet again Mullins provided the odds-on favourite in Cilaos Emery, but two and a half miles in testing ground sapped his stamina and he stopped very quickly in the home straight.
Darver Star, third in Epatante’s Champion Hurdle, looked much happier back over hurdles having struggled over fences of late and he coasted home 20 lengths clear of the remainder for Keith Donoghue.
“He just grew in confidence as the race developed. The further he went the better his jumping got,” said Cromwell.
“The ability was always there and his work was great at home. Maybe we shouldn’t have stayed chasing as long as we did.
“I put blinkers on him and schooled him because we had him in the Paddy Power and he jumped brilliant. Then a horse fell in front of him and he got mowed out of it. Thankfully Keith (Donoghue) had the sense to pull him up.
“The Galmoy Hurdle might be a possibility and if not the Boyne Hurdle.
“I’m delighted for the boys as it’s been a frustrating 18 months.”
Mullins also had an odds-on loser in the opening Tote.ie Home Of The Placepot Beginners Chase but this time he also saddled the impressive winner in En Beton (10-1).
An all-the-way winner for King George hero Danny Mullins, he appeared to have the measure of stablemate Egality Mans when he came down two out.
His jockey said: “That was a good performance, he jumped great. For a first time over fences he was taking lengths out of the field which allowed me to just keep filling him up.
“He gave a blow after the line, but hopefully he’ll step up from that. You would think looking at him he would always be a chaser and from what he showed there it looks like it is going to be his game.”
Martin Brassil’s An Epic Song landed a fair touch being backed from as big as 14-1 overnight into 2-1 favourite in the Tote Supporting Punchestown Handicap Hurdle.
“He’s a horse with a bit of a future we hope, a big fine chaser,” said Brassil.
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