Owl Creek Bridge prevails in incident-packed Punchestown contest

Owl Creek Bridge somehow managed to avoid the misadventures all around him to land a gamble in the Sporting Life Beginners Chase at Punchestown.

In what was an incident-packed race from the outset – starting with Padraic’s Choice being withdrawn, causing the race to be delayed – both horse and Conor McNamara had to be at their most alert and agile throughout as fallers, loose horses and at one stage even an errant swan threatened their safe passage.

Favourite Ensel Du Perche was doubly responsible for the manic chain of events in the extended two-mile-six-furlong contest, initially when he fell at the first fence and brought down Good Luck Hope and Half Shot.

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All three horses then ran loose, weaving between runners at the head of a field which would eventually be reduced from the 14 who set out to just six finishers.

Ensel Du Perche was once again the chief culprit as he veered in one direction and then the other approaching the fence leading away from the stands, with his two fellow loose horses for company, before carrying out three more and causing another to refuse.

Among them were the appropriately-named pair Jack Fiasco and Hell On Earth.

Owl Creek Bridge had hunted round in midfield to that point, but the incident left him well clear.

That is where he stayed too for the final circuit, despite the bizarre attentions of a swan, who just briefly threatened another unwanted cameo when appearing on the rail on the run to the last.

After guiding the well-backed 7-1 shot home 12 lengths clear, for his father and trainer Eric, McNamara provided a calm eyewitness appraisal.

He said: “There was plenty of drama going on the whole way, and he had to make his own running after nearly half the field were taken out at the one after the stands.

“He jumped electric, and it’s good to get a beginners. He didn’t beat a whole pile – but a win is a win.”