Tag Archive for: Punchestown

Bob Olinger sparkles with Punchestown verdict

Bob Olinger made it two wins in as many starts over fences when running out a cosy winner of the Kildare Novice Chase at Punchestown.

The seven-year-old, a dual Grade One hurdles victor last term, had triumphed on his chasing bow at Gowran in November although his jumping was not faultless on that occasion.

However, he turned in a more assured round of fencing in this Grade Three, with Rachael Blackmore content to maintain a watching brief in the early stages as Lifetime Ambition and Capodanno set the early gallop.

With three fences down the back straight omitted due to the sun, it was a long run to the third-last with Bob Olinger clearly travelling well for Blackmore.

However, she had to start pushing on the 1-2 favourite turning in, but once Bob Olinger found top gear he swiftly put the race to bed, clearing the last in fine style before coming home four and three-quarter lengths ahead of the game Capodanno. Gaillard Du Mesnil plugged on for third, beaten a further 27 lengths.

Bob Olinger is now the evens favourite for the Turners Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham with both Coral and Paddy Power.

De Bromhead was delighted with Bob Olinger’s performance and felt he had progressed from his Gowran victory.

The Bob Olinger team following his victory
The Bob Olinger team following his victory (Donall Farmer/PA)

He said: “He was really good and Rachael was really happy with him. He jumped great and it was a class race.

“He’d come on a hell of a lot since Gowran and I think the experience he got there has really stood to him.

“The second is obviously a good horse and the pair of them have pulled clear. Thankfully our man kept going.”

De Bromhead initially indicated he would look towards Leopardstown next month for Bob Olinger, if conditions allow.

He added: “The Dublin Racing Festival is the plan subject to ground. There would want to be a good ease in the ground.

“It seems our best option. It’s three weeks and I think that’s the plan at the moment.

“He’s got a lot of class and a great attitude.”

However, he later told Racing TV: “He was probably going there (Leopardstown) before today, now I don’t know. We might need to think twice about it. We’ll see how it unfolds.

“That’s what we were doing, but the way he jumped there today, we’ll see. Nothing is set in stone.”

Dysart Dynamo blows Punchestown rivals away

Dysart Dynamo galloped his rivals into submission – and fired a warning shot to Constitution Hill and Jonbon in the process – as he maintained his unbeaten record in the Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.

Willie Mullins’ charge won both his bumper outings last term and got off to a good start over obstacles when triumphing by 19 lengths at Cork in December.

He was sent off the 4-9 favourite for this Grade Two contest and Paul Townend was quick to assume the lead, with Dysart Dynamo quickly building up a healthy advantage over the chasing Gringo D’aubrelle and Guily Billy.

The field was well strung out by halfway and Dysart Dynamo just kept up his relentless gallop, with a slightly awkward landing at the penultimate obstacle barely checking his momentum as Townend allowed him to cruise home by 19 lengths from Gringo D’aubrelle.

Mullins has won the two-mile affair with some giants of the jumping game in the past, with Vautour, Douvan and Min landing the prize between 2014 and 2016, and the bookmakers feel Dysart Dynamo holds similar potential, chopping him in the markets for both the Supreme and Ballymore Novices’ Hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival.

Paddy Power offer 7-2 from 12s for the Supreme – behind only the Nicky Henderson-trained Constitution Hill and Jonbon – while he is the 4-1 favourite for the longer Ballymore in March. Coral go 4-1 about both races.

Townend said: “We went a proper gallop and he jumped brilliant. He’s exciting and it was a very good performance.

“He’s a good one and nicer people couldn’t have a good one like him. They love their horses and have a proper one now.”

Dysart Dynamo came home in splendid isolation
Dysart Dynamo came home in splendid isolation (Donall Farmer/PA)

Mullins’ assistant David Casey expects Dysart Dynamo to head to Cheltenham, although definite plans have yet to be decided.

He said: “He was very impressive and we see that at home with him. He has a huge engine and you would have to be delighted with him.

“I don’t know what the plan is, but you would imagine he will go straight to Cheltenham now.

“Paul said he did everything right for him and he had plenty left at the end.”

Whiskey Lullaby made it a double for Mullins and Townend
Whiskey Lullaby made it a double for Mullins and Townend (Donall Farmer/PA)

Mullins and Townend made it a double with Whiskey Lullaby in the Sporting Life Beginners Chase, with the 13-8 favourite hanging on by three-quarters of a length from Difficult Decision.

The Closutton team had to settle for second in the first division of the 15% Off Festival Tickets Maiden Hurdle as Goven could not hold the renewed challenge of Hiaou, the 11-8 market leader.

His trainer Gordon Elliott has a Cheltenham Festival run in mind for the Jack Kennedy-ridden winner.

Hiaou (far side) just edged victory
Hiaou (far side) just edged victory (Donall Farmer/PA)

He said: “He did everything wrong and Jack said he needed a better gallop. The one thing I like about him is he’s gutsy and he couldn’t pull him up after the line.

“He’s still a big, weak horse and I’d say we could step him out in trip. He’ll have a few more runs this year and he could be on the Cheltenham team.”

The second division went to Supreme Jet (5-2 favourite) while Must Be Obeyed (12-1) stayed on strongly to land the Punchestown Gift Vouchers Mares Handicap Hurdle for Tom Gibney and Darragh O’Keeffe.

Bob Olinger takes centre stage at Punchestown

All eyes will be on Bob Olinger at Punchestown on Sunday, as the Cheltenham Festival winner has his second start over fences in the Kildare Novice Chase.

The Henry de Bromhead-trained seven-year-old enjoyed a brilliant novice hurdle campaign last season, culminating in victory in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

His fencing bow came at Gowran Park in November, where he did what was asked of him while at the same time giving the impression there was plenty to work on.

De Bromhead said: “He was good (in his beginners’ chase). I think you’d be entitled to comment on his jumping. It wasn’t spectacular. It was fine.

“He jumped some really well, but there were a couple he didn’t jump so well. But it was good. He won. It looked a very good beginners’ chase on paper. We’ll take one race at a time.

“He’s doing plenty of schooling. He’s jumping fine at home, so we have no reason to worry about that having had that experience behind him. We’re looking forward to Sunday.”

The main opposition to the favourite in the eight-strong line-up for the Grade Three contest looks set to come from the Willie Mullins pair of Capodanno and Gaillard Du Mesnil, who were first and third respectively in a beginners’ chase at Naas last month.

Gaillard Du Mesnil will clash with Bob Olinger again
Gaillard Du Mesnil will clash with Bob Olinger again (Brian Lawless/PA)

Gaillard Du Mesnil also chased Bob Olinger home at Cheltenham.

De Bromhead is also represented in the Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle by Guily Billy, who got off the mark over hurdles at the second time of asking at Tramore.

“Going to Punchestown was the next logical step for him after that,” said De Bromhead of the Cheveley Park Stud-owned six-year-old.

“He’s won his maiden hurdle and now we step forward and see. We’ll learn more about him.

“He’s in good form and we’re hoping he’ll go and give a good account himself. It’s as you’d expect in this country. It will be extremely competitive, but we’ll go and take our chance and see.”

Heading the market for the Grade Two is the Mullins-trained Dysart Dynamo, with the Closutton handler fielding another unbeaten contender in the shape of Hawai Game.

Bob Olinger primed for Punchestown spin

Bob Olinger is set to light up Punchestown on Sunday, with Henry de Bromhead keen to run him in the Kildare Novice Chase.

The seven-year-old was a dual Grade One winner over hurdles last term, running out a seven-and-a-half-length victor in the Ballymore on what was his final start of the season.

He has only been seen once so far this campaign, when making a winning debut over fences at Gowran.

De Bromhead has been looking for the best suitable option, which included two entries in England, but he will stay closer to home and is one of 11 possibles for the Grade Three.

“We’re certainly aiming to bring Bob Olinger to Punchestown. He seems in good form and he worked well this morning,” said De Bromhead on Tuesday.

“There were a few options for him but this one was the one that stood out to us, so we said we’d have a go with this.

“He’s doing plenty of schooling. He’s jumping fine at home so we have no reason to worry about that having had that experience behind him. We’re looking forward to Sunday.”

Stablemate Embrun Mitja is also entered along with the Willie Mullins pair of Capodanno and Gaillard Du Mesnil, who was second to Bob Olinger at Cheltenham.

Mullins’ Dysart Dynamo and Hawai Game, both unbeaten, are among seven in the Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle in which De Bromhead is looking to run Guily Billy.

Dysart Dynamo could run at Punchestown on Sunday
Dysart Dynamo could run at Punchestown on Sunday (Brian Lawless/PA)

“We were disappointed but it was his first run (when second at Clonmel in October),” said De Bromhead.

“He possibly got bogged down in the ground but I’m not sure really. There was no obvious reason and he came out and did the job well in Tramore next time, which was good to see.

“Going to Punchestown for the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle was the next logical step for him after that.”

Gordon Elliott’s Gringo D’aubrelle, third in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury, is another possible.

Pied Piper looks one to follow after Punchestown success

Gordon Elliott looks to have another smart juvenile on his hands in the shape of Pied Piper following his winning debut at Punchestown.

Elliott already houses the Triumph Hurdle favourite in Fil Dor and sporting the same red and white Caldwell Construction Ltd silks, the former John and Thady Gosden inmate showed he is also likely to be a force to be reckoned with.

Up against the Willie Mullins-trained favourite Vauban, the two had it between them from some way out in the Join Tote.ie 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle.

Owned by the Queen on the Flat, Pied Piper was sold for 225,000 guineas and always appeared to be travelling better than the market leader, who to his credit closed all the way to the line to only be beaten half a length, with the pair 15 clear of the remainder.

Betfair and Paddy Power introduced the winner into the Triumph betting at 14-1.

“He’s a nice horse and I think there is an awful amount of improvement in him. I couldn’t see him winning today and he hasn’t even been away from home,” said Elliott.

“He jumped well and probably travelled a bit too well early. He loved the ground and is one to look forward to. He’s a big baby.”

Elliott doubled up with Harmonya Maker in the closing bumper, with the filly getting a 16-1 quote from Paddy Power for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper.

“She’s a nice mare and one for the future. She might be one for Leopardstown or Fairyhouse, we have those options and she could be one to run in a graded hurdle and then put away for next year,” said Elliott.

There was a pleasing return to form for Gavin Cromwell’s Darver Star (6-1) who was a wide-margin winner of the Tote+ Pays You More On Tote.ie Hurdle.

Yet again Mullins provided the odds-on favourite in Cilaos Emery, but two and a half miles in testing ground sapped his stamina and he stopped very quickly in the home straight.

Darver Star, third in Epatante’s Champion Hurdle, looked much happier back over hurdles having struggled over fences of late and he coasted home 20 lengths clear of the remainder for Keith Donoghue.

“He just grew in confidence as the race developed. The further he went the better his jumping got,” said Cromwell.

“The ability was always there and his work was great at home. Maybe we shouldn’t have stayed chasing as long as we did.

“I put blinkers on him and schooled him because we had him in the Paddy Power and he jumped brilliant. Then a horse fell in front of him and he got mowed out of it. Thankfully Keith (Donoghue) had the sense to pull him up.

“The Galmoy Hurdle might be a possibility and if not the Boyne Hurdle.

“I’m delighted for the boys as it’s been a frustrating 18 months.”

Mullins also had an odds-on loser in the opening Tote.ie Home Of The Placepot Beginners Chase but this time he also saddled the impressive winner in En Beton (10-1).

An all-the-way winner for King George hero Danny Mullins, he appeared to have the measure of stablemate Egality Mans when he came down two out.

His jockey said: “That was a good performance, he jumped great. For a first time over fences he was taking lengths out of the field which allowed me to just keep filling him up.

“He gave a blow after the line, but hopefully he’ll step up from that. You would think looking at him he would always be a chaser and from what he showed there it looks like it is going to be his game.”

Martin Brassil’s An Epic Song landed a fair touch being backed from as big as 14-1 overnight into 2-1 favourite in the Tote Supporting Punchestown Handicap Hurdle.

“He’s a horse with a bit of a future we hope, a big fine chaser,” said Brassil.

Early Doors seeking confidence boost on hurdles return

Early Doors reverts to hurdling for his belated seasonal debut at Punchestown on Friday, with trainer Joseph O’Brien hopeful the former Galway Plate winner can make up for lost time.

The JP McManus-owned eight-year-old, who landed the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, gained his first victory over fences at Galway in July 2020.

Partnered by Mark Walsh, Early Doors will have his first run since winning the Galway Plate 520 days ago in the Tote+ Pays You More On Tote.ie Hurdle as he takes on eight rivals over two miles and three furlongs.

O’Brien said: “We are hoping for a nice run. He had a setback after he won the Galway Plate, so we wanted to give him a bit of time.

“He is back over hurdles and we’re hoping to give him a bit of confidence and hoping that he runs a good race. Then we will take it from there.

“We are taking baby steps with him. The plan will be to go back over fences again, but he has good form over hurdles. He should run a nice race, but this is very much a stepping stone. The ground will be fine for him.”

Among Early Doors’ main rivals are the Willie Mullins-trained Cilaos Emery, who also reverts to hurdles following victory in a four-runner Listed chase at Thurles on his seasonal bow, and Gordon Elliott’s unbeaten four-year-old Saint Felicien, who landed a two-mile novices’ hurdle at Gowran on his stable and seasonal debut last month.

Cilaos Emery beat the reopposing Darver Star by three lengths at Thurles when conceding 3lb, but the pair will be off level weights this time.

Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: “It looks a mix and match kind of a race. Cilaos Emery was fourth in the (2020) Champion Hurdle and behind Darver Star that time, but Darver Star maybe looks to have regressed since then, so it looks like it could be a good opportunity at the weights.

“He could be a Bachasson kind of horse that could mix and match, over fences, hurdles and different trips.”

Elliott continues winning streak with Sunday treble

Gordon Elliott followed up Saturday’s spectacular seven-timer at Navan by saddling an across-the-card treble on Sunday.

Fresh from winning all but one of the races run at his local track, the Cullentra House handler enjoyed a double at Punchestown and a victory at Cork to round off a memorable weekend.

Elliott teamed up with Davy Russell for his two Punchestown winners, with Top Bandit (5-6 favourite) the first to strike gold in the opening BetVictor Loyalty Club Rated Novice Hurdle.

Top Bandit jumps the final flight at Punchestown
Top Bandit jumps the final flight at Punchestown (Brian Lawless/PA)

“It was a lovely race for him. Davy said he had to go when he did – probably sooner than he wanted to,” said the trainer.

“He wouldn’t be one for the real depths of winter, so we’ll probably give him a break at some stage and have him back for the spring.

“Yesterday was an unbelievable day and all the horses are fine this morning. I’m absolutely thrilled.”

Elliott and Russell later combined with Party Central (3-1), who touched off stablemate Humble Glory by a head to claim Listed honours in the BetVictor Proud To Support Irish Racing Mares Novice Hurdle.

Elliott, who also won the opening race at Cork with Iberique Du Seuil, said of Party Central: “She’s a good mare. I’d say if Davy had his time back he’d have waited a bit longer. He said she shocked him as she leapt on the bridle when he gave her a squeeze three out.

“She was lame after the last day and it’s nice to get head back in front.

“The Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham is the main aim and she will probably have one more run before that.

“Humble Glory ran well and gets some black type, so everyone is happy.”

Gavin Cromwell’s Shantou Lucky justified 4-1 favouritism in division one of the Old House, Kill Handicap Hurdle, while division two went to Tony Martin’s 7-2 market leader Gain De Cause.

Glenquin Castle was one of two winners for owner JP McManus
Glenquin Castle was one of two winners for owner JP McManus (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Martin Brassil-trained Glenquin Castle (11-8 favourite) was a second winner for Gain De Cause’s owner JP McManus in the Hanlon Concrete Handicap Chase.

Newcomer Sandor Clegane provided Paul Nolan with a welcome winner in the concluding bumper following the fatal injury suffered by stable star Latest Exhibition at Fairyhouse a week ago.

Nolan said: “It’s virtually the same owners as Latest Exhibition and we’re delighted today the way he did it. He was very professional and hopefully he’ll kick on. He schools well.

“We’ll probably go for a winners’ bumper. He’s a fine, big horse and hopefully he stays trouble free.

“It’s been a horrible week. They have been tremendously lucky colours for us and great people. It’s great win for them after what happened last week.”

Ferny Hollow sparkles in Punchestown comeback

Ferny Hollow made a triumphant return from over a year on the sidelines on his chasing debut at Punchestown.

The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old had claimed a couple of notable scalps on his two most recent starts – beating esteemed stablemate Appreciate It in the 2020 Champion Bumper at Cheltenham and Bob Olinger on his first start over hurdles at Gowran Park last year.

Ferny Hollow (8-15 favourite) missed the remainder of last season through injury, but appears to have retained all his ability judged on his comeback in the BetVictor Beginners Chase.

Jumping well at the head of affairs under the trainer’s son Patrick Mullins, the Westerner gelding was challenged and briefly passed by Coeur Sublime between the final two fences.

But Ferny Hollow wrestled back the lead approaching the last and a bold leap sealed his victory, with four lengths separating him and Coeur Sublime at the line.

Willie and Patrick Mullins and owners Cheveley Park Stud were completing a quick-fire double following the Grade One success of Allaho in the preceding John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.

Willie Mullins at Punchestown on Sunday
Willie Mullins at Punchestown on Sunday (Brian Lawless/PA)

“For a horse with such little experience I was very impressed with him,” said Mullins senior.

“He was very lazy over the first few fences, very careful. Patrick said once he had to get down to race over the last four he was much better, he was like a professional.

“We’ll look for a nice novice chase with him. We’ll see how he comes out of that before we make a plan for his next run.”

Allaho makes all to take Durkan honours on seasonal bow

Allaho led home a one-two-three for Willie Mullins in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.

A brilliant winner of last season’s Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, Allaho was a 7-2 shot to make a successful reappearance in a race in which the champion trainer saddled seven of the 10 runners.

Sent straight to the lead by the trainer’s son Patrick Mullins, the Cheveley Park Stud-owned seven-year-old jumped well in the main to keep his rivals at bay.

Another Mullins inmate, Asterion Forlonge, looked set to mount a bold challenge as he was travelling well before unshipping his rider three fences from home.

Janidil then emerged as the biggest threat from the home turn, but despite tiring, Allaho dug deep to see off his stablemate’s challenge by two lengths.

Perennial bridesmaid Melon was best of the rest of third, with 7-4 favourite Envoi Allen ultimately disappointing in sixth.

Allaho strides on for Patrick Mullins
Allaho strides on for Patrick Mullins (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mullins said of the winner: “I was delighted how he fought back. When Asterion Forlonge came up alongside him I thought that would take the stuffing out of him. Each challenger that came, he kept pulling it out.

“He raced very lazily today which is not like him and he was going a bit to his left which is not like him, so we will have to look at all that for the future.”

Allaho was winning on his seasonal bow for the first time and Mullins expects all of his runners to come on for the outing, with the winner’s class proving crucial.

He added: “Our horses are not fully wound up yet and I was hoping his ability would pull him through. Taking on horses with a run under their belt can be very tough.

“I was very happy with the way they all performed and hoping they will all improve from that.”

Huge afternoon in store for Cheveley Park at Punchestown

Cheveley Park Stud director Richard Thompson is fascinated to see who will come out on top between Allaho and Envoi Allen in a mouthwatering renewal of the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.

Thompson revealed last month he was not against the idea of two of Cheveley Park’s biggest guns locking horns in the Grade One contest – and was as good as his word, with both declared on Friday morning.

Thompson said: “Let’s see what happens – this is what sport is all about, isn’t it?”

Henry de Bromhead’s Envoi Allen is the likely favourite, having bounced back from a fall at Cheltenham and an injury suffered at Punchestown in the spring with a runaway victory at Down Royal in October.

The Willie Mullins-trained Allaho is rated 11lb higher than Envoi Allen off the back of his spectacular display in Cheltenham’s Ryanair Chase last season, but has been off the track since chasing home esteemed stablemate Chacun Pour Soi at Punchestown in April.

“Allaho will probably bowl along from the front, you’d think – that’s his running style. With Envoi, it will be fascinating to see what he can do,” Thompson added.

“Envoi is a machine – he’s got tremendous acceleration. Allaho has obviously done it in the Ryanair, producing one of the most impressive performances at Cheltenham in recent years.

“Allaho came out in the John Durkan last year and didn’t run to form, so that could count against him. Envoi has obviously had a run already and that could be a deciding factor.

“You’d have to say Envoi potentially has the edge as he’s race-fit. He has won five Grade Ones, but this is a proper step up, so let’s see what he’s got.”

It promises to be another big day for the Cheveley Park team, with Ferny Hollow making his eagerly-anticipated return to action in the BetVictor Beginners Chase.

The 2020 Champion Bumper has not been seen in competitive action since claiming the notable scalp of Bob Olinger in a Gowran Park maiden hurdle in November of last year.

Thompson said: “We’ve got three of our big guns in action and I’ll be travelling over to watch them.

Richard Thompson (right) with Ferny Hollow at Cheltenham last year
Richard Thompson (right) with Ferny Hollow at Cheltenham last year (Simon Cooper/PA)

“We had an amazing day at Haydock two weeks ago with A Plus Tard winning the Betfair Chase. That will live in my memory forever and you can’t buy days like that – it’s magic dust.

“Ferny Hollow has been working well and schooling well.

“We know he’s got the ability and Willie likes him a lot, so we’ll hope for a decent run from him.

“It will tell us about his season going forward as well.”

Bryony Frost booked for Franco De Port by Willie Mullins in John Durkan

Bryony Frost will have a ride for Willie Mullins on Sunday as the champion trainer prepares a seven-strong team for the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.

Mullins has saddled a joint-record seven previous winners of the Grade One contest and appears intent on adding to his tally this weekend.

Allaho, so brilliant when winning the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, appears the Mullins first string, with the trainer’s son Patrick coming in for the ride.

Frost takes the mount on Franco De Port, whose high-class novice form includes a Grade One win at Leopardstown last Christmas.

Franco De Port will be ridden by Bryony Frost on Sunday
Franco De Port will be ridden by Bryony Frost on Sunday (PA)

Bryan Cooper steered Asterion Forlonge to victory over the course and distance in April and is once again on board him, while Danny Mullins partners Kemboy, as he did to win last season’s Irish Gold Cup.

Janidil, Melon and last year’s John Durkan runner-up Tornado Flyer complete the Closutton squad.

Allaho is one of two leading hopes for Cheveley Park Stud along with Envoi Allen, who is the likely favourite for Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore.

The seven-year-old, who put a Cheltenham fall and an injury suffered at Punchestown behind him with an impressive return at Down Royal, is joined by Grand National-winning stablemate Minella Times, the mount of leading amateur Derek O’Connor.

A quality field is completed by Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir D’oudairies, who like Envoi Allen has the benefit of a recent run having made a successful reappearance in last month’s Clonmel Oil Chase.

The likely star of the show on the undercard is the Mullins-trained and Cheveley Park-owned Ferny Hollow, who makes his long-awaited return – and fencing debut – in the beginners’ chase.

The 2020 Champion Bumper winner has been off the track since beating top-class novice Bob Olinger in a maiden hurdle at Gowran Park in November of last year.

Mullins has strong hand in John Durkan Memorial

Willie Mullins is responsible for nine of the 17 remaining entries for the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase on Sunday.

The champion trainer has saddled a joint-record seven previous winners of the Grade One contest, with the now-retired Min completing a hat-trick in the last three renewals.

His most likely contender for this time around appears to be Allaho, who was a brilliant winner of last season’s Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

The seven-year-old is also entered in Saturday’s Betfair Tingle Creek Chase, but Mullins is expected to split his aces and send Chacun Pour Soi across the Irish Sea for the Sandown feature.

Chacun Pour Soi has also been left in the John Durkan, as has dual Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo, who has the alternative option of running at Aintree on Saturday in the Many Clouds Chase.

Speaking about the possibility of Al Boum Photo running at Punchestown, Patrick Mullins – assistant to his father – said: “It would be a trip short of his best, but options are limited for him and it’ll be a step towards getting him hard-fit for March

“With him being a little bit older he will probably need more races and more work to get his pipes open.”

Of Allaho, he added: “This race would look made for him. He does have an average record first time out.

“Last year in the fog (in the John Durkan), he didn’t seem to operate at all, but it’s the perfect starting place for him. His form does suggest he gets better as the season goes on.

“I think Willie hasn’t ruled out coming back to two miles again. He wasn’t disgraced against Chacun Pour Soi at Punchestown and he’s also entered in the King George.

“For two-and-a-half-mile horses, there aren’t as many top races for them as the other races so he might have to chop and change a bit but he’s well able to do that.”

Asterion Forlonge, Franco De Port, Janidil, Kemboy, Melon and Tornado Flyer complete the Mullins squad.

Henry de Bromhead also retains a strong hand, with Envoi Allen – who like Allaho is owned by Cheveley Park Stud – joined by Grand National-winning stablemate Minella Times as well as Notebook.

Envoi Allen is set to contest the John Durkan
Envoi Allen is set to contest the John Durkan (PA)

“Envoi Allen seems in great form, really good. He’s fit and well,” De Bromhead told Punchestown.com

“He’d been working really well before he won at Down Royal and we were delighted with him on the day. Everything has been good since then, too.

“We know he has plenty of pace. He’s obviously got very good form over two and a half so we’ll go to Punchestown and see how he gets on and we can work on from there.

“The racing in Ireland is so competitive and the John Durkan Chase looks like it could be very strong this year, but it’s great to have something to compete in these kinds of races.”

Gordon Elliott has confirmed Battleoverdoyen, Hardline and Samcro, while Joseph O’Brien could saddle recent Clonmel Oil Chase victor Fakir D’oudairies.

Ellmarie Holden’s Ex Patriot is the other hopeful.

On the same afternoon the Grade Two Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase takes place at Cork.

Mullins also has Chacun Pour Soi and Allaho in that two-mile contest, as well as Cash Back and Energumene, who enjoyed a faultless novice campaign over fences last term.

Patrick Mullins said of the latter: “For Energumene stepping out of novice company, the Hilly Way would look an easier stepping stone. It’s an ideal race for a horse starting off out of novice company. We’re very happy with him at home.”

He added of the Cork back-up for Chacun Pour Soi: “The Hilly Way has been a good prep race for him before, so we know he enjoys it in Cork and so it would be a good place for him to start again if he weren’t to go to Sandown. He’s ready to rock now.

“I’d say in Cheltenham we just got our tactics wrong. We didn’t make use of his cruising speed and jumping. He was pretty faultless other than that.”

John Durkan could see showdown between Allaho and Envoi Allen

Allaho and Envoi Allen could potentially lock horns in what would be a mouthwatering clash for the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.

Allaho was a brilliant winner of the Ryanair Chase at last season’s Cheltenham Festival and champion trainer Willie Mullins has already nominated the John Durkan as a potential comeback target.

If the seven-year-old does reappear on December 5, he would likely meet the Henry de Bromhead-trained Envoi Allen, who bounced back from a fall at Cheltenham and injury at Punchestown in the spring with a wide-margin success at Down Royal last month.

Both horses represent Cheveley Park Stud, whose director Richard Thompson said: “Envoi Allen going to go for the John Durkan, most probably – that’s the idea.

“Rachael (Blackmore) felt that tremendous acceleration at Down Royal and she said the power he had was great. It was great to see him back on form.

“His next run will be a true test – Allaho might run against him.”

Envoi Allen at Down Royal
Envoi Allen at Down Royal (Niall Carson/PA)

Asked if he would prefer to keep the two Cheveley Park stars apart, he added: “I’m not too worried about it actually.

“If both trainers think they’re ready to go and that is the right race for them, we’ll let them run against each other and see what happens.

“Allaho is in the Tingle Creek as well. I think the John Durkan is probably the favourite, but I haven’t spoken to Willie for a while so I’ll catch up with him next week.”

Super Sharjah stamps class on Morgiana Hurdle

Sharjah rewarded Patrick Mullins’ loyalty when reclaiming his title in the Grade One Unibet Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown.

The eight-year-old took the contest in 2018 and is a regular presence among the placed runners in the top-calibre hurdle contests, a status that saw him start as the 6-4 favourite.

He faced only two opponents with the late withdrawals of reigning champion Abacadabras and Joseph O’Brien’s Darasso leaving only Gordon Elliott’s Zanahiyr and stablemate Echoes In Rain to challenge him.

A faultless round of jumping had the smooth-travelling Champion Hurdle runner-up well placed to take the lead over the last, after which he happily pulled clear of Zanahiyr to prevail by three lengths, with Grand One-winning mare Echoes In Rain a further 12 lengths behind.

Sharjah and Patrick Mullins (right) coming home to win the Unibet Morgiana Hurdle ahead of Zanahiyr and Davy Russell
Sharjah and Patrick Mullins (right) coming home to win the Unibet Morgiana Hurdle ahead of Zanahiyr and Davy Russell (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

“He runs his race every day and he has a little bit of class. He’s a wonderful servant to have around the place,” said Willie Mullins.

“I’d imagine he’ll go back to Leopardstown at Christmas, all being well.

“It was very tactical, but the way it played out played into Sharjah’s hands.”

Of Echoes In Rain’s disappointing performance, the trainer said: “They went a bit too slow for the filly. She was too buzzy and didn’t jump well enough at that slow pace.

“She has a lot of improvement to do, but hopefully she will improve.”

Patrick Mullins opted to keep with Sharjah over Echoes In Rain, a decision that proved wise as the bay provided him with his first triumph in the race.

Jockey Patrick Mullins with the trophy
Jockey Patrick Mullins with the trophy (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

“The race played out ideal for me,” he said.

“He jumped great, he was out-jumping Davy (Russell on Zanahiyr) and I kept pulling him back. It turned into a sprint which suited him.

“He’s given me some great days, but a lot of credit has to go to David Porter and Eilish Byrne who look after him and ride him out.

“I’m very grateful to Rich Ricci because I’ve got to ride this horse ahead of the number one jockey a couple of times.

“I could have ridden Echoes In Rain today, but I wanted to stay loyal to Sharjah and luckily it’s paid off.

“He doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He’s like Santa – I can’t wait for Christmas now!”

Patrick Mullins with grandmother Maureen Mullins and the trophy after winning the Unibet Morgiana Hurdle
Patrick Mullins with grandmother Maureen Mullins and the trophy after winning the Unibet Morgiana Hurdle (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

Elliott said of his runner-up Zanahiyr: “It was a bit of a sprint and he needs a faster gallop. He’s a big idle fella, but he ran well.

“He was beaten by a very good horse, so there is no excuse.”

Dysart Diamond secures Listed honours at Punchestown

Dysart Diamond was a determined winner of the Listed Frontline Security Grabel Mares Hurdle under Bryan Cooper at Punchestown.

The Willie Mullins-trained chestnut has run well in handicap contests from summer through to the autumn and successfully made the step up in grade to score by half a length from Peter Fahey’s Royal Kahala, having started at 7-2.

Declan Queally duo Western Victory and The Getaway Star were third and fourth respectively, with Henry de Bromhead’s Dawn Run winner Telmesomethinggirl fifth as the 3-1 favourite.

Dysart Diamond and Bryan Cooper
Dysart Diamond and Bryan Cooper (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

“I’m delighted with how well she’s improved through the season to come from a handicapper up to win a Listed race,” Mullins said of his mare.

“She likes goodish ground and she’s getting nice ground here today.

“I’m sure once we get winter ground it won’t suit, she’ll probably get nice ground in Leopardstown.”

The three-mile pigsback.com Risk Of Thunder Chase, run over the cross-country course, was won by Derek O’Connor and Enda Bolger’s 5-4 favourite Shady Operator.

The eight-year-old ran prominently and was ultimately a comfortable winner, coming home seven lengths ahead of stablemate Midnight Maestro in an effort that may pave the way for a trip to Cheltenham at the end of the year.

Shady Operator and Derek O’Connor (right)
Shady Operator and Derek O’Connor (right) (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

“I just said to Derek O’Connor ‘you’re starting to enjoy that’ as this horse was his first winner here in February over the banks,” Bolger said.

“We’ll probably be going to Cheltenham in December with him.”

He added: “The second horse ran well. It was his first run since the Festival here and his first time around there was a little bit rusty. You can’t beat a run around here so he’ll be a nice horse to look forward to.”

De Bromhead’s Fully Charged may be headed to Leopardstown at Christmas after his victory under Hugh Morgan in the Ryans Cleaning Handicap Chase.

Priced at 4-1, the grey followed up a Gowran Park victory in October with another over an increased trip, this time prevailing by a neck from Gavin Cromwell’s Alfa Mix.

Fully Charged and Hugh Morgan (right) trailing Port Stanley before going on to win the Ryans Cleaning Handicap Chase at Punchestown
Fully Charged and Hugh Morgan (right) trailing Port Stanley before going on to win the Ryans Cleaning Handicap Chase at Punchestown (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

“He just lacks a bit of concentration. He’s not ungenuine at all, but the blinkers have really helped him focus better,” De Bromhead said.

“I’m delighted for the O’Reilly sisters (Three Swallows Partnership) and hopefully he’ll go for the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.

“He keeps galloping. He looked beaten jumping the last and fair play to Hugh he kept a little bit up his sleeve for after the last.”