Cape Gentleman is in line for a Grade One tilt after taking his record over fences to a perfect two from two with an authoritative success at Cork – on what was a day to remember for trainer Emmet Mullins.
Sent off at 100-30, with stablemate Noble Yeats heading the market for the Grade Three Paddy Power From The Horses Mouth Podcast EBF Novice Chase, the Brian Hayes-ridden five-year-old led from flag-fall and survived a minor blip two out to come 14 lengths clear of Run Wild Fred.
Mullins said of his charge, who has also won on the Flat and over hurdles: “He jumped great again and handled the ground. It’s loose, but they’re getting through it – and they’re not out on their feet, thankfully.
“It was good to get that second run into him now, for that bit more experience, and he’s probably entitled to go on to Fairyhouse now for the Drinmore (next month).
“It’s a big advantage to have those two runs under his belt, going on, and hopefully if he puts in another performance of jumping like that he’ll take beating wherever he goes.”
He added: “I told Brian he didn’t have to make it, just to keep rolling on him. Brian says he’s like a big cat to jump, he’s so nimble and athletic – and he’s versatile ground-wise. It was proper good ground in Punchestown. There are a lot of strings to his bow. It’s exciting times ahead.”
Cape Gentleman – who earned quotes of 14-1 for the Marsh Novices’ Chase and 16-1 for the Arkle with Paddy Power – was a second winner on the card for Mullins and Hayes, after Crowns Major doubled his career tally under National Hunt rules with a seven-length victory in the opening maiden hurdle.
The Punchestown bumper winner faced a strong challenge from Mosala when that rival came down at the second-last but was in control thereafter and well on top from runner-up Figurehead at the line.
After the 11-10 favourite’s success, Mullins said: “I was a bit worried about the ground, but that is a great start.
“It wasn’t his Derby today, and I told Brian to teach him as much as he could. He jumps well and had schooled well at home and came through nicely.
“He was a bit green in front going to the last, but hopefully there is plenty more in the tank.
“He was rated 96 on the Flat, jumps well and will get an entry for the Royal Bond. Being as slick as he is (over hurdles) is a huge asset to have with that pace, and he is exciting.”
It got even better for Mullins when Agritime gave him a first ever treble in landing the bumper as the 30-100 favourite, ridden by his cousin, Patrick Mullins.
The trainer said: “That’s my first treble, and there weren’t too many times when we had enough runners to have had one.
“She is a nice mare, loves that ground – and she found a nice opportunity.
“All she could do was win, and Patrick was complimentary of her and has advised to take a crack at the Listed mares’ bumper at Navan in November. We’ll see how that goes, before we go hurdling.”
Jack Kennedy recorded a notable victory as he landed the Paddy Power-sponsored Cork Grand National for the first time, aboard Braeside for Gordon Elliott.
Kennedy had the 16-1 chance perfectly positioned throughout, travelling and jumping well before taking over two out and safely navigating the last for a three-length triumph from Screaming Colours.
The rider said: “He travelled and jumped great and did it well. He loved that ground, and the further the better for him. He jumps for fun and is a grand staying horse.
“The one worry I had coming here was fitness maybe, but he proved me wrong and did it well.”
Chicago Time got the better of favourite Ballywilliam Boy to win the Listed Paddy’s Rewards Club EBF Novice Hurdle by almost four lengths, at 5-1 under Sean O’Keeffe for Tipperary trainer Matty Tynan.
“That is unbelievable and great for our yard and the Hassetts (owners),” said Tynan.
“Sean gave him a beautiful ride and got him into the race nice and handy. He seemed to be going well all the way, and picked it up and went away with it.
“We’ll give him a break now and we’ll go for the Connollys Red Mills Series Final at Punchestown in April. That will be his aim, and he has earned a well deserved break after this.”