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Easy pickings as Mullins’ chaser leads all the way

Easy Game made every yard of the running to lift the Grade Two PWC Champion Chase at Gowran.

The two-and-a-half-mile affair lost some of its sparkle when Arkle winner Put The Kettle On was withdrawn on account of the good ground, resulting in Easy Game, trained by Willie Mullins, being send off the 11-10 favourite.

Paul Townend was keen to take control from the off and Easy Game travelled well throughout, before surviving a slightly sticky leap at the penultimate obstacle to come home seven lengths clear of The Storyteller to bag the 20,650 euros first prize.

“Paul was allowed to dictate and he made use of that,” said Mullins.

“The horse jumped fantastic, he made one major error and one minor error. He loved the ground.

“I’m very happy for (owner) Nick Peacock.

“It’s good that Gowran were able to put on two days with good prize-money in this current climate.

“I have to thank today’s sponsors PWC and the EBF for putting on two fillies’ races yesterday with almost 20,000 euros to the winner.

“We could look at the John Durkan and the Clonmel Oil with the winner, while the second-season chase in Down Royal might be the best option.”

Epona Plays on top in Gowran Group Three prize

Epona Plays landed Group Three honours for trainer Willie McCreery and jockey Billy Lee in the Denny Cordell Lavarack & Lanwades Stud Fillies Stakes at Gowran Park.

Since shedding her maiden tag at the County Kilkenny circuit in July, the daughter of Australia had finished fourth in the Hurry Harriet Stakes at Gowran and third in the Snow Fairy Stakes at the Curragh.

Sent off a 9-2 chance for this nine-and-a-half-furlong contest, Epona Plays travelled kindly into the home straight and got the better of a final furlong battle with Etneya by a neck.

Market leader Ennistymon (2-1) – runner-up in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot and the Oaks at Epsom earlier in the season – was disappointing in first-time blinkers.

McCreery said: “I thought she was a decent filly last year and she ran a cracking race in Leopardstown.

“It’s taken her a while to get going, but she loves it here. She’s progressing well and they went a proper gallop.

“Billy said she was just behind the bit lovely all the way and when he asked her, she was always going to respond. He said she did it snugly in the end.

“I’m delighted for the owner/breeders Renzo Forni and his daughter Raffaello. That’s the fourth of that family that have won for me and the three fillies have all got black type.

“She had a little niggle earlier in the year that we have sorted out and she’s coming on the whole time. She’s a lovely, scopey filly and goes on any ground.”