Day Two of the 2017 Leopardstown Christmas Festival saw two well-backed favourites beaten in both Grade 1 races, with top owner JP McManus winning another Paddy Power Chase.
The Willie Mullins-trained 2-7 favourite Min was first past the post in the two mile one furlong Paddy’s Reward’s Club Chase, but with only half a length to spare. He lost the race in the Stewards Room for causing significant interference to the English challenger Simply Ned on the home straight.
The Paul Townend-ridden Min had made virtually all the running in the Grade 1 contest but was joined by Nicky Richard’s horse close home. Simply Ned’s jockey Mark Walsh made his move up the rail only for the head on camera to show that Min had bumped Simply Ned shortly before the last fence, and was then seen to lean on him close to the winning post. As a result, Simply Ned hit against the running rail, with pieces of plastic seen flying from the impact.
Stewards reversed the placings of the winner and the second following lengthy deliberations, giving 16-1 shot Simply Ned, a €23,000 purchase when originally bought at Fairyhouse Sales, and three times placed in the race, a Grade One success. Min’s rider, Paul Townend was handed a two-day ban by the stewards as a result.
In the other Grade 1 event of the day, Luke McMahon’s 9-1 chance Whiskey Sour won the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle. The Royal Bond Hurdle winner and race favourite Mengli Khan dived through the wing of the second last hurdle, giving his jockey no chance. This left two of Willie Mullins’ runners, Real Steel and Sharjah, in front approaching the last. Incredibly both horses failed to negotiate the final flight and fell independently of each other, leaving another Mullins runner, the dual Galway Festival victor, Whiskey Sour, claim an easy 19 length success under rider David Mullins.
In the richest race of the day, JP McManus won yet another three mile Paddy Power Chase when the Tony Martin-trained seven year old 14-1 shot Anibale Fly won for jockey Donagh Meyler.
Joseph O’Brien’s Vieux Morvan led all the way but as he began to weaken in the home straight, Anibale Fly took the lead. He was chased to the finishing line by a host of Gordon Elliott-trained runners, with his Ucello Conti claiming second place, the 4-1 race favourite Squouateur was third, and Potters Point finishing fourth.