Tag Archive for: Capodanno

Capodanno sparkles as Bob Olinger disappoints in Champion Novice Chase

Hot favourite Bob Olinger proved bitterly disappointing as Capodanno claimed top honours in the Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown.

Henry de Bromhead’s Bob Olinger looked a potential superstar in the making as a novice hurdler last season and while his jumping was not foot perfect, he won his first two starts over fences readily.

However, while he his doubled his Cheltenham Festival tally in the Turners’ Novices’ Chase last month, he would have been well beaten had Galopin Des Champs not come to grief at the final fence.

With no Galopin Des Champs to worry about and a tongue-tie fitted for the first time, Bob Olinger was a 6-5 chance in the hands of Rachael Blackmore, but was in trouble a long way from home and was pulled up before the home straight.

The Willie Mullins-trained Capodanno (11-4), who finished fourth in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham, travelled strongly throughout and readily accounted for Lifetime Ambition by six and a half lengths under Mark Walsh.

“I just felt coming out of Cheltenham we didn’t do the right thing. Having a chat with Mark beforehand, he was thinking the same way as I was and he wanted to be positive, that suited me,” said Mullins.

“We always thought that he stayed, it was just about the right way to ride him. We’d been holding him up and we had made the running once or twice.

“In the bigger races we hadn’t been bold enough and today was the day just to be bold and see what happens.

“It worked out and hopefully we might have a Gold Cup horse on our hands. He gallops and jumps and usually the Gold Cup is on good ground, that’ll do us.”

Bob Olinger steps up in search of Festival double at Punchestown

Bob Olinger is the star attraction in the Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase as Henry de Bromhead steps his unbeaten chaser up to three miles for the first time at the Punchestown Festival.

Heading into the Cheltenham Festival with a perfect record over the larger obstacles, the seven-year-old appeared set for defeat as Galopin Des Champs left the son of Sholokhov trailing in his wake in the closing stages of the Turners Novices’ Chase.

However, disaster struck at the final fence for the 5-6 favourite and allowed Bob Olinger to regroup and canter home for an uncontested 40-length victory in the Grade One event.

Both big-race jockey Rachael Blackmore and the trainer were unhappy with the gelding at Prestbury Park, who looked a shadow of the horse that landed the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle 12 months previously. He was given a thorough check-up in the aftermath and having recovered from the issues highlighted in that MOT, De Bromhead states it was always the intention to move up in trip at this stage of the season.

“I think it’s a logical progression to go to three miles with Bob,” De Bromhead said. “He seems really well again. Obviously, it was great to win but he was disappointing in Cheltenham in terms of the level of his performance, but it seems good now and we’re happy with him. We’ll see where we go after learning more on Tuesday.

“He definitely wasn’t right in Cheltenham. Definitely. He had this torn muscle. It wasn’t bad but it was definitely torn and it probably ties in. Rachael said he made a terrible noise after he jumped the sixth-last, where he twisted in the air. So it definitely didn’t look like him.

Cheltenham Festival 2022 – Day Four – Cheltenham Racecourse
Trainer Henry de Bromhead is looking forward to stepping Bob Olinger up in trip at the Punchestown Festival (Tim Goode/PA)

“We were always going to go for the three-mile race at Punchestown and as we’re happy with him now that the muscle tear has cleared up, it’s all systems go.”

The three-mile chase is one of three Grade One races on the opening day of the Punchestown Festival and was won last year by Willie Mullins. The Closutton handler is represented this time by Capodanno, who was last seen finishing fourth in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, while Gigginstown House Stud have won this with Delta Work and Sir Des Champs in the past and rely on Fury Road and Beacon Edge.

There is British interest in the race in the form of Millers Bank. Alex Hales’ eight-year-old built on a second in the Pendil Novices’ Chase when running out a commanding 10-length winner of the Manifesto Novices’ Chase over two and a half miles at Aintree last time and his handler is hoping for another big performance on this enterprising raiding mission.

Randox Grand National Festival 2022 – Opening Day – Aintree Racecourse
Millers Bank, Kielan Woods (jockey) and Alex Hales (right) celebrate after winning the SSS Super Alloys Manifesto Novices’ Chase at Aintree (David Davies/PA)

“Aintree went brilliantly and we felt we didn’t have a lot to lose coming over here,” said Hales.

“I’ve always envisaged three miles would be his best trip, he switches off well so I don’t see that being a problem. The only slight concern in the back of my mind is his best form has been on flat tracks, but to be fair that’s all he’s ever run on.

“It’s taken 20 years to find a horse like him, so we’re going to make the most of it and enjoy having our first runner over here (Punchestown). The horse has settled in fine, is eating up all OK and we’re happy with where we are.”

The seven-strong field is completed by Jessica Harrington’s Limerick scorer Lifetime Ambition and the mare Ballyshannon Rose.

Gaillard Du Mesnil upstaged on chasing debut by stablemate

Capodanno upset better-fancied stablemate Gaillard Du Mesnil to complete a Naas treble for champion trainer Willie Mullins.

A dual Grade One winner over hurdles last season, Gaillard Du Mesnil was a short-priced favourite for his reappearance and fencing debut in the Get A Run For Your Money With BetVictor Beginners Chase.

The 4-11 shot jumped well and travelled comfortably for much of the race, but came under pressure in the home straight and ultimately had to make do with minor honours in third.

The JP McManus-owned Capodanno was a 4-1 shot for his first appearance since winning a handicap hurdle at the Punchestown Festival in April.

And considering he made a huge mistake and nearly came down two fences from the finish, Jody McGarvey’s mount did extremely well to rally and get up to beat Embrun Mitja by a length and a quarter.

Mullins said: “It was a tremendous performance after making a mistake at the second-last fence, to do what he did against what looked like a very good beginners’ chase field.

“He seems like he’s going to be a much better chaser than hurdler.”

Of Gaillard Du Mesnil, the trainer added: “He was a little disappointing and he might have just needed the run. He’ll come on from that.”

Mullins had earlier unleashed two exciting recruits to the jumping game in Hawai Game and Brandy Love.

Willie Mullins enjoyed another productive afternoon
Willie Mullins enjoyed another productive afternoon (Brian Lawless/PA)

Hawai Game, also carrying the McManus silks, justified odds of 8-11 BetVictor Loyalty Club Maiden Hurdle under Paul Townend – his first and only start since winning a bumper in France last year.

Frank Berry, the owner’s racing manager said: “He did it the hard way, I suppose. He was a bit keen and he’ll learn a good bit from today. It was a nice performance.

“He jumped reasonably well and you couldn’t ask for any better. We’ll see what Willie wants to do with him now and see where he goes.”

Mullins and Townend were also on the mark with point-to-point and bumper winner Brandy Love (4-5 favourite), who cruised to a 10-length verdict in the Extra Places Everyday At BetVictor Mares Maiden Hurdle.

Brandy Love was much too good for her rivals
Brandy Love was much too good for her rivals (Gary Carson/PA)

“She was a point winner and she jumps and gallops,” said Townend.

“She had a blow there, but she was pretty keen the whole way. She went around the bend to pull up so she’s very tough.

“I’m sure she’ll have a nice future. She enjoys jumping and she’ll be good fun.”