Teahupoo confirmed as king of the stayers with stylish success

Teahupoo cemented his position at the top of the staying hurdling tree with a devastating display in the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown.

Gordon Elliott’s charge could only finish fourth when 3-1 joint-favourite for the race 12 months ago – but victory this year could have been called a long way from home as the seven-year-old was ridden with supreme confidence by Jack Kennedy.

The 5-6 favourite travelled menacingly throughout the contest before putting the race to bed with ease once entering the straight, seeing off the enigmatic Asterion Forlonge by six and a half lengths.

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It is the first time this century the winner of the equivalent race at the Cheltenham Festival has followed up at the Punchestown Festival and the Robcour-owned stayer finishes the season unbeaten having successfully defended his Hatton’s Grace crown in early December.

He has been trimmed to 5-2 favourite from 3s by Paddy Power to repeat his Stayers’ Hurdle heroics at Prestbury Park next March and for now appears an unstoppable force over three miles and timber.

A delighted Elliott said: “It was great for the horse and great for Jack, he has a big battle (jockeys’ title with Paul Townend) and it’s going to be a long tough week.

“He said he was stuck in a bit of a pocket behind Paul and he had to get out. He said the ground might be as quick as he wants it, but he was very good. He’s a great horse.”

Jack Kennedy all smiles with Teahupoo
Jack Kennedy all smiles with Teahupoo (PA)

Owner Brian Acheson added: “My main thing is about the horse because all the doubters from last year are now put to bed, and it’s great for Jack. I was really worried coming here because the horse didn’t let himself down on the ground last year.

“He was Robbie Power’s last ride here in the Champion Hurdle and finished last and I was thinking if it would be in the horse’s head. They are emotive creatures and they do remember stuff. By God did he give a performance today and I’m delighted.

“It’s petrifying, it’s torture, because you want the horse to show everybody how good they are.

“That’s really important for Jack, but Paul Townend isn’t going away.”

Sire Du Berlais was a star for Gordon Elliott
Sire Du Berlais was a star for Gordon Elliott (David Davies/PA)

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There was, however, a sad postscript to the race for the Elliott yard, with Sire Du Berlais suffering a fatal injury. Three times a winner at the Cheltenham Festival, including last year’s Stayers’ Hurdle, the 12-year-old also won the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree twice.

“I’m absolutely heartbroken and he’s been a horse of a lifetime for us at Cullentra,” Elliott told Racing TV.

“Everyone is in bits over it, the girls and the lads at the yard and he’s been unbelievable so we’re all gutted.

“Thoughts are with JP, Noreen (McManus) and the whole family and it takes the gloss off the whole week, if I’m honest. I’m heartbroken.

“He was just a horse of a lifetime and you couldn’t write what he has done for us. He always wore his heart on his sleeve and was a great horse.”

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