French-bred Duc Des Genievres (5/1) and Co. Cork jockey Paul Townend brought Willie Mullins an early Cheltenham Festival double when winning the Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase, the second race on today’s card.
The six-year-old Duc Des Genievres won by a very comfortable 13 lengths at odds of 5/1 from Joseph O’Brien’s Us And Them, with a further three-and-three-quarter lengths back to Terence O’Brien’s Articulum (25/1) as Irish-trained runners filled the first three places.
Townend could hardly believe the run he enjoyed in the race as he took his ninth Festival success:
“I got a dream run around. He really put it together the last day, when he was impressive, and thankfully he put it together again today. He handled the ground very well, as he did the last time, and it surprised me how well I was going at the top of hill. At least he kept going and was foot perfect.”
Willie Mullins said of his opening races double:
“It feels very good, considering where I thought I was two or three weeks ago, looking at the string and going round our ground and horses we had tried to get runs into and couldn’t. It looks like we’ve got two nice horses there anyway, and a few to come – and some nice ones at home that we never got out.”
2.10pm Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 1m 7f 199y
1 Duc Des Genievres (Sullivan Bloodstock Limited) Willie Mullins IRE 6-11-04 Paul Townend 5/1
2 Us And Them (Burnham P & D ltd) Joseph O’Brien IRE 6-11-04 J J Slevin 14/1
3 Articulum (Martin McDonagh & Paul Murphy & M Nixon) Terence O’Brien IRE 9-11-04 David Mullins 25/1
100/30 fav Hardline (7th)
Distances: 13, 3¾