Tag Archive for: Redemption Day

Facile Vega records Cheltenham-Punchestown double

Facile Vega was made to pull out all the stops to maintain his unbeaten record in the Race & Stay At Punchestown Champion I.N.H. Flat Race at Punchestown.

But Quevega’s son proved he possesses plenty of guts to go with his undoubted quality in seeing off his Willie Mullins-trained stablemate Redemption Day, who was well fancied but disappointed in the championship event at Cheltenham.

All the pre-race talk concentrated on Facile Vega clashing again with Gordon Elliott’s American Mike, who had almost four lengths to make up from Cheltenham.

Jamie Codd was positive on American Mike and tracked the pace-setters while Patrick Mullins was content to follow him a few lengths adrift.

All the while, however, Jody Townend was following Mullins, determined to play her hand last of all.

When Mullins cruised up alongside American Mike he must have thought it was going to be straightforward, only to see Townend arrive sat motionless to his left.

Redemption Day did briefly get in front, but Facile Vega (8-15 favourite) responded generously to Mullins’ urgings, going on to score by a length and a quarter, with the pair pulling 14 lengths clear of American Mike.

Facile Vega was left unchanged as the 5-2 favourite for next year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with Paddy Power.

Patrick Mullins celebrates on Facile Vega
Patrick Mullins celebrates on Facile Vega (Brian Lawless/PA)

“He had to pull it out there because Jody nearly stole it. She said ‘we didn’t beat him, but we frightened him’,” said Mullins senior.

“The horse had to dig deep and it’s the sign of a good horse. I don’t work them hard at home but he’s getting stronger all the time.

“The owners didn’t sell the mare and they put her in foal to the most expensive stallion in the country in Walk In The Park and they have got a fantastic horse out of it.

“There were big offers for this horse, but they decided they are not going to sell him. They are getting a reward and hopefully he will serve them for the next couple of years.

“He has huge potential and fingers crossed he stays right.”

Patrick Mullins said: “He was quite worked up in the parade ring and down at the start which wouldn’t be like him, so I think the season was probably starting to get to him a bit.

“I said it before Cheltenham that there wasn’t much between this fellow and Redemption Day on home work. Redemption Day is a very good horse as well.

“Turning out of the back straight, I’m thinking to myself ‘you’re a bit flat’ and I wanted to hold onto him as long as I could.

“I was happy I would beat American Mike for gears, but I thought that Redemption Day might be a little bit quicker than me.

“He was flat today and he still won, he got headed and he battled back. He’s the full package, he can do it tough if he needs to.”

Mullins assembling formidable Champion Bumper squad

The pecking order of Willie Mullins’ Champion Bumper horses may still yet to be determined, but the Closutton trainer’s battalion is certainly taking its usual formidable shape.

Mullins has won the Cheltenham Champion Bumper a record 11 times since 1996, including the last two renewals with Ferny Hollow and Sir Gerhard.

And with four bumper winners in as many days over the Christmas period, hopes are high that at least three of them will line up in the Weatherbys-sponsored championship event at the Prestbury Park track on Wednesday, March 11.

Progression is anticipated from Facile Vega, who made a winning debut at Leopardstown on Sunday, and both Embassy Gardens and Redemption Day, who did the same on Monday and Tuesday, over the same course and distance.

Patrick Mullins, assistant to his father, said: “The Nice Guy (winner on Wednesday) will go jumping. The other three could all be Champion Bumper horses.”

Embassy Gardens, a son of Shantou, is owned by Sean and Bernardine Mulryan and is a general 20-1 chance for the Champion Bumper after his nose success.

“Obviously Embassy Gardens will probably need to improve, but of the three, I think he is the one who will improve the most,” added Mullins.

The Tim O’Driscoll-owned Redemption Day was installed as the 6-1 third-favourite for the Champion Bumper by Paddy Power following his four-and-a-half-length triumph.

Yet arguably the most visually impressive of the Mullins yard’s bumper quartet of winners was Facile Vega, owned by the Hammer & Trowel Syndicate, who ran out an impressive six-length winner.

The son of Walk In The Park is out of six-time Mares’ Hurdle winner Quevega and is the 4-1 second-favourite for Cheltenham with Paddy Power, behind the Gordon Elliott-trained American Mike (11-4).

Mullins said: “Redemption Day is probably the quickest of them and Facile Vega is taller and probably has the most scope of them, so we have all different shapes and sizes.

“There are some tough decisions to make, but it is good position to be in.”