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Colreevy caps racing career with Punchestown glory

Colreevy ended her racing career in a blaze of glory after upsetting big guns Monkfish and Envoi Allen with a superb front-running victory in the Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown.

A clash between the Willie Mullins-trained Monkfish and Henry de Bromhead’s Envoi Allen was billed as one of the races of the season, with Monkfish protecting an unbeaten record over fences and Envoi Allen bidding to bounce back from his early fall at Cheltenham.

However, Monkfish’s stablemate Colreevy – winner of the inaugural Mares’ Chase in the Cotswolds last month – had other ideas under a well-judged ride from the trainer’s nephew, Danny Mullins.

The 7-1 shot raced enthusiastically and jumped with exuberance on the front end, with eventual runner-up Monkfish sat second under Paul Townend and Envoi Allen third in the hands of Rachael Blackmore.

However, Envoi Allen appeared to be in trouble some way from home before eventually being pulled up approaching the second-last fence, by which time Monkfish was also struggling to peg back the leader.

Colreevy was a little untidy at the final obstacle, but soon regathered her momentum and passed the post eight lengths clear.

The winner, who was recently covered by leading sire Walk In The Park, is now set for a well-earned retirement at the age of eight.

Willie Mullins said: “On ratings she was the best-rated (with the mares’ allowance). Obviously Envoi Allen is not right, and Monkfish probably didn’t run his true race, but she did and probably ran an even better race than she did in Cheltenham.

“It’s a nice send-off for Colreevy. It’s fabulous for the Flynns (owners) and for Danny as well.”

While Townend steered Colreevy to Cheltenham success, Danny Mullins did land a Grade One with her at Limerick earlier in the campaign.

He said: “She’s been a good mare to me this season. I’m delighted to repay the Flynns’ faith in me.

Colreevy and Danny Mullins after winning at Punchestown
Colreevy and Danny Mullins after winning at Punchestown (Niall Carson/PA)

“It was a good performance. She was a little bit sticky early on, but once she warmed into it she proved that she’s a top-class mare.

“When I got away from a third-last and was able to turn to the second-last with a little bit of petrol, I thought I’d be hard to beat – but having said that, Monkfish and Envoi Allen were on my tail, so it was always going to be tough.

“She took a chance at the last, but she’s a lot of power underneath her and kept galloping strongly away from it.”

Flooring Porter powers to all-the-way Stayers’ Hurdle success

Danny Mullins finally got his first Cheltenham Festival winner when making the most of a chance ride on Flooring Porter in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle.

Mullins had gone so close many times in the past, but was fortunate enough to pick up the mount after Jonathan Moore, who led the horse up, had to miss the ride through injury.

Flooring Porter, trained by Gavin Cromwell, was a handicapper earlier in the season – but showed he was much better than that when winning the Grade One Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown.

He made all that day and the same tactics were deployed again to great effect.

No horse could get close enough to threaten the 12-1 winner, who powered up the hill to cross the line three and a quarter lengths ahead of Sire Du Berlais.

Paisley Park, winner in 2019, tried hard in defeat, a length and three-quarters away in third place. Beacon Edge was another half a length back in fourth.

A recent fall had left Moore him facing a race against time to make Cheltenham. He had a sit on his proposed big-race mount, but declared himself unfit and recommended Mullins to Cromwell.

Cromwell praised the selflessness of Moore and said: “It was a huge performance and a smashing ride. It was a big blow for Jonathan, he made the decision himself that he wouldn’t do the horse justice.

“He suggested Danny would be suited to the horse and it was all down to Jonny’s instructions.

“Hats off to Johnny, he’s so unselfish – he thought he wouldn’t do the horse justice, so I’m very grateful. He actually sat on him.”

Cromwell had mentioned prior to the Festival he was worried about the fact there was no rail the whole way round, as Flooring Porter has lugged left in the past. But there were no signs of any misdemeanours.

“He ran straight and true today, bar going right at the last. Other than that he was grand,” said Cromwell.

“He won a Grade B handicap at Navan when it wasn’t the plan to make the running. He decided on his tactics so we went along with it.

“We won the Champion Hurdle a few years ago so to win another championship race is fantastic.

“The owners are a syndicate from Galway, they are a great bunch and it’s an awful pity they can’t be here.

“Everybody knows how hard it is to get a good horse. We came across this lad by accident, he was a very cheap store so it’s a bit of a fairytale really – it just goes to show dreams can still happen.”

Mullins was also quick to pay tribute to Moore.

Flooring Porter and Danny Mullins were poetry in motion
Flooring Porter and Danny Mullins were poetry in motion (Michael Steele/PA)

He said: “It was fantastic. He’s a very good horse. I got the call-up about an hour beforehand and in fairness to Jonathan Moore he gave me every bit of information he had about the horse.

“Credit to him. He knew he wasn’t in good shape this morning and stood himself down – it’s the mark of a great man.

“Jonathan wanted everything to go well and I’m sure he’ll be back for Punchestown and well able to reunite the partnership.

“It’s fantastic to get my first winner on the board at Cheltenham, in a Grade One as well.

“I know there’s no crowd here, but I’m really enjoying it that’s for sure.”

Emma Lavelle was proud of the effort of Paisley Park, who returned with a heart complaint when beaten last year.

She said: “I’m really pleased with him, although I can’t say I’m not disappointed as well because at the end of the day we didn’t win.

“He’s run flat out from start to finish and just couldn’t go any faster. The winner has gone some gallop and kept going. We had to use him to get there and just couldn’t get to where we needed him.

Paisley Park (left) was a brave third
Paisley Park (left) was a brave third (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“Probably having missed the trial race here it wasn’t fitness that got him beat but probably a little sharpness, as he hadn’t run since before Christmas. He’s run a super race and all credit to Flooring Porter.”

Asked about Aintree and Punchestown, Lavelle continued: “We’ll see how he is after this, but he hasn’t had a busy season and I’d say we’ll definitely have a look at those races.”

He was ridden by Aidan Coleman, who said: “He’s shown a great attitude and fair play to the horse, but I was flat out the whole way – simple as. I couldn’t really get into it and when I did I’d probably used my energy to get there, but he tried everywhere and I’m very proud of him.

“That was some gallop, so fair play to the winner. It was a very good ride on the winner too, as he got a breather into him down the back and we’ve closed up a bit, but by the time we got into some sort of a position he was able to go on again.”

Kemboy gallops to Irish Gold Cup glory

Kemboy made every yard of the running to win the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown.

Agonisingly caught close home by A Plus Tard in the Savills Chase at Christmas, this time he was allowed to dominate throughout.

Ridden by Danny Mullins, with Paul Townend preferring the claims of the unplaced Melon, Kemboy only briefly looked in danger on the run to the second last.

Rachael Blackmore moved the favourite Minella Indo to within a length of Kemboy but hit the fence hard, handing back the initiative to Kemboy and he never looked likely to relinquish it.

Willie Mullins, who has mopped up the Grade One contests over the weekend, had feared the ground would be too soft for the nine-year-old, but he did not look inconvenienced in the slightest.

Kemboy jumped the last in fine style and kept up the gallop to win by two lengths from The Storyteller, with Delta Work third.

Paddy Power cut the winner to 10-1 from 14s for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham.

Mullins said: “That’s fantastic for Danny and his owners.

“He’s really surprised me on that ground. The chase track is a lot better than the hurdle track and they went up the middle, which is better again.

“I thought all the rain we had might have affected that fella, but he seems to be getting stronger with age.

“I had Paul (Townend) down on this guy and Patrick (Mullins) down to ride the other guy (Melon), but Paul said he’d like to ride Melon.

“Different tactics didn’t work on Melon, I’d say he just likes to enjoy himself and get on with it. Melon keeps his best for Cheltenham, but hasn’t managed to get to the lollipop in front yet (four times second at the Festival).

“We’ll have a think with (owner) Mr Donnelly about Melon, maybe something like the Ryanair might suit, and let him enjoy himself from the beginning – that might suit him better.

“Danny got some great leaps out of the winner, I only spotted one mistake on the first circuit. Rachael came after him down the back, but his jumping got him out of it.

“I’m very pleased to win another Paddy Power Gold Cup.”

Mullins admitted a switch back to smaller obstacles at Cheltenham remains a possibility, despite his victory.

He added: “He’s entered in the Stayers’ Hurdle as well as the Gold Cup, as I’m just not sure if fences are his thing around Cheltenham. We were all wondering if we should try something different as Cheltenham hasn’t been his luckiest spot.”

Danny Mullins said: “Myself and David (Mullins, recently retired jockey) were chatting after the race at Christmas and he said he’s not fast, but is a great galloper and this is a ride he would probably have had, so it’s thanks to him that I am on board today.

“It’s great to be winning these high-level races at the big meetings, it’s what it’s all about and riding a good horse like this is fantastic.”

Agusta strikes Fairyhouse gold

Agusta Gold gained a deserved success in the John & Chich Fowler Memorial EBF Mares Chase at Fairyhouse.

The Mags Mullins-trained eight-year-old has built up an extraordinarily consistent record over the years, having only finished out of the first three once in 18 outings before this, when fourth on her hurdling debut.

However, she had only managed to get her head in front on four occasions, which for a mare with her ability did not really do her justice.

Sent off 10-1 on her first run of the season against some smart opposition despite the late defection of Shattered Love, Danny Mullins was happy to take a lead from Cabaret Queen.

Paul Townend was stalking on odds-on favourite Salsaretta, but she was treading water before the turn into the straight.

As Cabaret Queen gave way Moyhenna was the big danger and possibly got in front after the last, but Agusta Gold dug deep to win by half a length to claim the Grade Three feature.

Paddy Power introduced the first two into the betting at 20-1 for the new mares’ chase at Cheltenham.

“It was a good performance. We thought that she might need the run, on her first run back in a competitive race like that,” said Danny Mullins.

Jockey Danny Mullins with Agusta Gold (right) after winning the John & Chich Fowler Memorial EBF Mares Chase race at Fairyhouse Racecourse (Niall Carson/PA Wire)
Danny Mullins with Agusta Gold

“She was very solid last year, and tough. This kind of track and big fences seems to suit her so hopefully we’ll have a crack at some of those good staying chases through the spring. She’s a mare going the right way.

“She was a Grade B winner over hurdles and graded-placed last year so to get the graded win over fences is great.

“The Irish National was the plan last year, but it got cut short. Hopefully that could be the plan again.”