Tag Archive for: Mighty Potter

Mighty Potter springs 20-1 Punchestown surprise

Mighty Potter claimed a surprise victory in the Bective Stud Champion Novice Hurdle, highlighting a four-timer for trainer Gordon Elliott on the opening day of the Punchestown Festival.

A field of five runners went to post for the first Grade One of this year’s Festival, with much of the pre-race focus on the Willie Mullins-trained pair of Sir Gerhard and and Dysart Dynamo.

Sir Gerhard was the 4-7 favourite to supplement success in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, with stablemate Dysart Dynamo (13-8) – a faller in the Supreme – widely considered his biggest threat.

Dysart Dynamo adopted his customary front-running role from flag-fall, with Sir Gerhard and Mighty Potter always his nearest pursuers.

The latter was pulled up in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, but raced with far more enthusiasm on this occasion, with Jack Kennedy doing a good job of keeping Sir Gerhard and Paul Townend in a pocket.

The gap came for Sir Gerhard before the home turn, but he was unable to keep tabs on 20-1 shot Mighty Potter, who fiddled his way over the final flight to seal a four-length verdict.

Elliott, completing a quick-fire double following the earlier success of Party Central in the opener, said: “It’s brilliant to win the first two races. I know it’s not going to be smooth sailing all week and when Willie gets going it will probably be like a steam train!

“I’m very lucky with all the support I have in the yard.”

Mighty Potter returns to the winner's enclosure
Mighty Potter returns to the winner’s enclosure (Gary Carson/PA)

He added: “Being honest, I thought Party Central was my best chance of the day. I was humming and hawing whether I’d run this horse. We walked the track a couple of times and said we’d take our chance.

“I thought Jack gave him a beautiful ride, he held his position the whole way. The horse is a chaser for the future and we’re very happy.

“He did the splits and was lame for a few days after Cheltenham, nothing seriously wrong with him but he just wasn’t right and came home very light.

“That was great and he’ll going chasing next year.”

Mullins said of his beaten pair: “Sir Gerhard was beaten here last year, so maybe he doesn’t like Punchestown, and Dysart Diamond had a heart fibrillation, so that’s what happened him.”

Party Central (right) on her way to victory
Party Central (right) on her way to victory (Niall Carson/PA)

Elliott teamed up with Davy Russell to win the opening Howden Insurance Brokers Mares’ Novice Hurdle with 9-4 chance Party Central.

The six-year-old took over from the pacesetting Instit with a bold leap at the final flight and was always doing enough thereafter to score by a length and a quarter.

“That was great, she loves that ground. Davy gave her a great ride and it worked out great,” said Cullentra handler.

“Davy said he was happy the whole way. The one thing you don’t want to do is get to the front too soon as she idles. The plan was to be upsides at the last, but as soon as she got to the front she pulled up.

“We haven’t discussed it yet but I can’t see why she won’t jump a fence. She’s a nice mare and I’d say ground is a big key to her, she just doesn’t like real depths of winter heavy ground.”

Elliott then made it three from three on the day in the Killashee Hotel Handicap Hurdle, with Kennedy steering 11-1 shot Felix Desjy to a narrow success.

A Grade One-winning novice three years ago, the nine-year-old had been disappointing of late, but bounced back to land this fiercely competitive event by three-quarters of a length.

Elliott, who was serving a suspension during last year’s Festival, said: “That’s brilliant, the horses are running well and we’re absolutely delighted.

“This horse has been difficult but we’ve done a lot of work with him, doing different things at home.

“We’ll have a bit of fun with him now and I’d imagine he’ll probably go for the Galway Hurdle.

“This time last year I was in Portugal lying on a beach, but I’m a lot happier to be here.”

The trainer brought up his fantastic four-timer with 20-1 shot Absolute Notions emerging triumphant in the €100,000 Goffs Land Rover Bumper in the hands of Declan Lavery.

“We thought this was a nice horse, but he’s a baby and nearly like a breaker to be honest,” Elliott added.

“The few little bits he had done I had liked, but I didn’t think he had enough done to win. He’s a nice horse for the future.”

Following the earlier Grade One victories of Energumene and Capodanno, champion trainer Willie Mullins completed a treble in the concluding bumper with 11-4 joint-favourite Lisnagar Fortune.

A half-brother to Stayers’ Hurdle winner Lisnagar Oscar, the four-year-old stayed on strongly in the hands of Patrick Mullins to pick up stablemate Vadsa Queen before going on to score by four lengths.

Mullins senior said: “It was a very good performance, he was as green as grass and it took him all day to learn how to gallop up the straight.

“I thought Jody (Townend on Vadsa Queen) had the race stolen off the bend but once Patrick got his fella going, he got into gear and made up a lot of ground.

“He was only getting going as he hit the line, he’s a half-brother to Lisnagar Oscar so he looks sure to stay.

“He looks like a horse for the future for (owner) Denis and the Fitzgerald family. We’ll have a word and see what they want to do, but I’d imagine he’ll go jumping in the autumn.

“I’m very pleased to finish up on a note like that. The second filly looks like she should win before too long as well.”

The Richie O’Keeffe-trained Vital Island (7-2) scuppered a Mullins four-timer as he fended off Good Bye Sam in the Kildare Hunt Club Cross Country Chase for the Ladies’ Perpetual Cup.

“He loves it around here, he’s been second a few times but he did the job today. He loves the banks,” said O’Keeffe.

“We’ll see what way he is, but he might run again on Thursday.”

Bonus offered in hope of securing Constitution Hill and Honeysuckle clash

Connections of Constitution Hill have been given an added incentive to take on Honeysuckle at the Punchestown Festival.

Henry de Bromhead’s supermare has won 15 times from 15 starts, retaining her Champion Hurdle title at the Cheltenham Festival under Rachael Blackmore.

Earlier on the same Tuesday card at the Festival it was Constitution Hill in the spotlight, as the Nicky Henderson-trained gelding lit up Prestbury Park with a staggering 22-length triumph in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

The two horses could yet cross paths in the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle, a race Honeysuckle won by two and a quarter lengths last season and given a boost with the sponsors offering a bonus of £100,000 should a British-trained horse take the trophy back across the Irish Sea.

Rachael Blackmore celebrating after Champion Hurdle success aboard Honeysuckle
Rachael Blackmore celebrating after Champion Hurdle success aboard Honeysuckle (David Davies/PA)

Conor O’Neill, Punchestown’s CEO said: “When Paddy Power came on board as Punchestown Champion Hurdle sponsors they committed to clear objectives.

“The race should be as competitive as possible, increase field sizes, attract the very best horses from both sides of the Irish Sea and then tell people about it to create anticipation and excitement for the overall promotion of the sport.

“Now in the second year of the sponsorship they have certainly backed this up with a €300,000 prize fund and bonus incentive. The first Paddy Power Champion Hurdle was behind closed doors so we really look forward to working with the team as we welcome crowds back to famous festival Friday at Punchestown.”

Constitution Hill winning the Supreme Novices' Hurdle
Constitution Hill winning the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Mike Egerton/PA)

While the bonus is intended to lure British horse across to the meeting, the 10-strong field of current entries has no shortage of Irish-trained runners and Gordon Elliott could be responsible for two of them.

Both Teahupoo and Zanahiyr are in the mix, with the former disappointing when last in the Champion Hurdle and the latter going well when falling in the Betway Aintree Hurdle.

Elsewhere at the meeting Elliott has made entries for Aintree winner Three Stripe Life, who took the Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle and could head next to the Alanna Homes Champion Novice Hurdle.

Minella Crooner, who missed the Cheltenham Festival with a minor setback, is entered for the same race and is also engaged in the three-mile Irish Mirror Novice Hurdle.

Three Stripe Life winning the Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle
Three Stripe Life winning the Betway Mersey Novices’ Hurdle (Mike Egerton/PA)

“We’ve made entries for all the Grade One races at Punchestown and we will be well represented throughout the week,” said Elliott.

“It’s our season-ending Festival in Ireland and a fantastic five days. We’ve had a bit of luck there in the past and hopefully we can finish the season off with a high.

“It’s where my owners want to have runners and it’s where I want to have runners.

“We had two winners at Cheltenham and two Grade One winners at Aintree and the horses have been running well. We haven’t always had the best of luck in the last few weeks, but a lot of the horses that weren’t winning were hitting the crossbar and finishing second so it was brilliant to have the couple of big winners at Aintree and see Delta Work and Escaria Ten run so well in the National itself.

Gordon Elliott has plenty to look forward to at Punchestown
Gordon Elliott has plenty to look forward to at Punchestown (Mike Egerton/PA0

“We’ve had some great days at Punchestown. It’s a brilliant place and they’ve a great team there on the track and behind the scenes and they provide beautiful ground which is so important at this time of year.

“Three Stripe Life was brilliant at Aintree and will go over fences next season so he might take in Punchestown but again, he’ll tell us over the next few days. He’s a horse to really look forward to next season.

“Minella Crooner has options of the Alanna Homes and the Irish Mirror Novice Hurdles.

“It was disappointing that he picked up a setback just before Cheltenham but it was very minor.

“We were just forced to miss a few days with him at the wrong time, but he’ll go to Punchestown fresh now and I’ve been happy with him in the last couple of weeks and I’m looking forward to getting him back out.”

Fil Dor (left) at Down Royal
Fil Dor (left) at Down Royal (Niall Carson/PA)

Mighty Potter was pulled up in the Supreme at Cheltenham and aims to bounce back in the Bective Stud Champion Novice Hurdle, with Fil Dor entered in the Ballymore Champion Four Year Old Hurdle for the same owners after his second-placed run behind Vauban in the Triumph Hurdle.

“Mighty Potter didn’t run his race at Cheltenham but has come home well and he’ll definitely go to Punchestown and I’d love to have a big winner there for his owners, Andrew and Gemma Brown,” said Elliott.

“We also have Fil Dor for them as well and he’ll go for the Ballymore Champion Four Year Old Hurdle on the Saturday.

“He has to try turn the tables with Vauban, who beat him at Cheltenham and the Dublin Racing Festival, but we’ll give it a go. Punchestown is a different type of test and if he can run his race we’d be delighted.”

Mighty Potter to take direct route to Cheltenham Festival

Connections of Mighty Potter have confirmed the exciting novice hurdler will sidestep this weekend’s Dublin Racing Festival and head straight to Cheltenham in March.

A 29-length winner on his hurdling debut at Down Royal, Gordon Elliott’s charge was subsequently beaten into third place in the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse.

Having bounced back to winning ways with a Grade One victory at Leopardstown in December, the five-year-old was given the option of returning to Foxrock for Sunday’s Tattersalls Ireland Novice Hurdle.

However, Mighty Potter is set to be kept fresh for his trip to the Cotswolds in March.

Joey Logan, racing manager to owners Caldwell Construction Ltd, said: “We’re going to go straight to Cheltenham with Mighty Potter.

“He’s a big horse and he’s after having three runs over hurdles. He’s fresh and very well in himself and I think the best thing is to go straight to Cheltenham with him.”

Mighty Potter is entered in both the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the longer Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

The same owners have two leading hopes for the Triumph Hurdle in impressive Cheltenham scorer Pied Piper and Fil Dor, who puts his unbeaten record over hurdles on the line at Leopardstown on Saturday.

Joey Logan (right) with Pied Piper at Cheltenham
Joey Logan (right) with Pied Piper at Cheltenham (David Davies/PA)

In the aftermath of Pied Piper’s romp last weekend, Elliott hinted he could split his juvenile aces by running him in the Supreme and Fil Dor in the Triumph, while Mighty Potter could potentially step up in trip for the Ballymore.

Plans remain fluid, however, with Fil Dor’s performance this weekend key to where all three horses end up running at Prestbury Park.

“We’ll have a better idea after the weekend where we’re going to go,” Logan added.

Mighty Potter leads Elliott one-two in Future Champions Novice Hurdle

Mighty Potter led home a Gordon Elliott one-two in the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown.

The four-year-old was third in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle, also a Grade One event, at Fairyhouse last month and built on that performance to strike at 5-2.

A length and a half behind was stablemate Three Stripe Life, who was a 4-1 chance having won his hurdling debut in early November.

The performance of the winner was made even sweeter for Elliott as it was stable jockey Jack Kennedy’s first success since breaking his arm at Navan early last month.

“That was great and it’s great for Jack as it’s his first winner since coming back. It was a perfect result,” he said.

“I was happy the whole way until the second-last but he just got wiped out there, both horses did but they both showed guts and came back. They are two nice horses for the future.

“The winner is a big chaser, if you look at him, and he’s not going to be a horse until next year.”

Of possible Cheltenham targets Elliott said: “We’ll get today out of the way and then we’ll see what happens.”

Of Three Stripe Life Elliott also added: “I was very happy with him. It was only his second run over hurdles and he’s a very good horse.

“He’s raw, but Davy (Russell) was happy with him, he was a bit annoyed at himself as he got stopped at the second-last. He said there is a lot of improvement in him as well.”