Captain delivers at Punchestown

Captain Guinness got his career back on track with a first victory over fences at Punchestown.

The five-year-old was a high-class novice hurdler for Henry de Bromhead last season – and was not done with when he was brought down two flights from the finish in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Like many of De Bromhead’s horses, Captain Guinness was widely expected to take higher rank over the larger obstacles, but was pulled up on his chasing debut at Tipperary in October, after which he was found to be suffering from a heart problem.

With Rachael Blackmore again in the saddle, he was 4-5 favourite to show his true colours in the GAIN Supporting Laois GAA Beginners Chase – and jumped well in the main on his way to a near five-length success over Midnight Run.

De Bromhead said: “I’m delighted with that and Rachael was really happy with him. He took a little blow turning in, so hopefully he will come on from that. It’s great to get him back on track.

“Obviously he was very disappointing the first day and hopefully we can keep the heart right. Rachael said it’s very testing ground and she thinks he’ll be better on nicer ground.

“He did a piece of work since Tipperary and worked well. He’s just been tipping away since and we keep monitoring the heart. Certainly before and after he runs now we will always check his heart.”

Captain Guinness holds an entry in the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown on Boxing Day, but his trainer added: “Christmas may come a bit soon and there is a nice race at Naas in early January.

“He can go there and if all goes well, then he can go to the Irish Arkle.”

Betfair cut Captain Guinness to 20-1 from 33-1 for the Arkle at Cheltenham next March.

Unexcepted impresses with victory on chasing debut

Unexcepted put up a sparkling round of jumping to win the Cashel Beginners Chase at Tipperary – in which odds-on favourite Captain Guinness was pulled up at halfway.

Henry de Bromhead’s Captain Guinness was expected to take high rank among this season’s novice chasers, given how well he was running in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in March before he was unfortunately brought down.

Rachael Blackmore set out to make all on the favourite. But after an awkward jump, they conceded the lead to Willie Mullins’ Unexcepted – and Blackmore soon realised all was not well and pulled him up.

That is to take nothing away from the 7-2 winner, though, who was virtually foot perfect throughout for Mark Walsh en route to an eight-length success from Entoucas.

A hurdles winner on his Irish debut last season from the smart Jason The Militant, he was then beaten at odds-on at Limerick and pulled up early in a big handicap in February – but he is clearly over whatever was ailing him that day.

Betway were impressed and gave the winner a 14-1 quote for the Arkle in March, while Betfair are offering 20-1.

“He jumped brilliant and he was out-jumping Rachael (Blackmore), and I was taking him back over the first four fences,” said Walsh.

“After that I said ‘this lad is winging’ – so I just let him go, and he loved it. He was very quick over his fences and makes lengths at them, so you’d have to be delighted with that.

“He is a half-brother to (Grade One-winning chaser) Great Field, so hopefully he’ll go the same way and win a few of those good races.”

Blackmore reported to the stewards that Captain Guinness returned “unsound behind”.