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Video Replays – Chacun Pour Soi & Colreevy stole the show on the opening day of the 2021 Punchestown festival.
Colreevy may have been something of a turn-up for the books in the Grade 1 Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase but the eight-year-old continued her rich vein of form to give Willie Mullins a big race clean sweep on Day 1 of the Punchestown Festival.
The admirable eight-year-old posted a career best as she backed up her Cheltenham Festival success to beat the boys in emphatic style as her stable companion Monkfish followed her home in second.
For Mullins, it was a Grade 1 treble with three different jockeys getting in on the act in the feature races. This time it was the trainers nephew, Danny Mullins, following on from his cousin Patrick and the Closutton stable jockey Paul Townend who guided the latest three top tier winners for Mullins.
Colreevy’s success was a fifth on the day for the champion trainer after the Conor McNamara-ridden Jazzaway won the Killashee Handicap Hurdle and Jody Townend landed added another major race to her growing portfolio when steering Adamantly Chosen to win the Goffs Land Rover Bumper.
For Colreevy, the Grade 1 Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase will prove to be the perfect way for her to bow out from racing as she will now be retired and a date with leading sire Walk In The Park now awaits her.
“That was a nice send-off,” confirmed Mullins. “Fabulous for the Flynns (owners/breeders) and for Danny as well.”
“On ratings, she was the best rated (with the seven-pounds mares’ allowance). Obviously Envoi Allen is not right. I think Monkfish, probably, didn’t run his true race and she did. She ran her true race and probably even ran a better race than Cheltenham.”
Danny Mullins was full of praise for his willing partner. He said: “She’s a tough mare. She was sticky early on but got into a nice rhythm and ran out a nice winner of a hot race.
“I said to Willie beforehand that I wanted to bounce out and flow and he said, ‘Yeah, just keep jumping and travelling away.’ And once she warmed into it, she was very good.
“I thought going down the back straight they were on my tail. I got a nice jump at the third last and once I was able to get up around the bend still with a little bit of petrol, I was happy enough it would take a fair one to beat me. But that said, I had Monkfish and Envoi Allen behind me. They were going to be coming at me.
“Fair play to her. That’s my second Grade 1 on her this year. Cheltenham Festival winner. She’s a proper mare.”
A vintage renewal of the Grade 1 William Hill Champion Chase saw Chacun Pour Soi storm to victory for Willie Mullins, Paul Townend and Susannah Ricci providing reigning champion jockey Townend with a welcome winner.
The six-runner field was led along at a hair-raising gallop in the early stages and despite being headed briefly by stable companion Allaho in the early stages, Chacun Pour Soi extended on the approach to the straight and eased clear under Paul Townend to win by five and a half lengths from a staying on again Allaho with Nube Negra back in third.
Mullins later described the winner as a ‘push button ride’ as he was winning a second Grade 1 of the afternoon and for Townend it was a first winner back since a fall at Fairyhouse on Easter Sunday which had ruled him out of action until today.
The ghost of Cheltenham was well and truly put to bed by Chacun Pour Soi as he returned to his sublime best to record a fifth Grade 1 success.
“They were on song today, both himself and Paul. He gave an exhibition of jumping and racing. He just had horses out of their comfort zone from very early on,” said Mullins.
“Cheltenham was very disappointing. I just felt that it wasn’t the Chacun Pour Soi that we know. I don’t know why he did what he did at Cheltenham. Maybe we just weren’t positive enough on him but it’s good to see that he’s back to himself.”
Townend, who is still limping as a result of that foot injury he is nursing, was beaming as he extended his lead over Rachael Blackmore in the race to be crowned Ireland’s champion jockey on Saturday.
“I just want to thank everyone. I’m not going to name names because I’m going to forget someone but a lot of people but in a lot of hard work to get me back,” Townend said on his race to be fit for Punchestown.
On the Ricci-owned winner he added: “That was the proper Chacun Pour Soi. I was so disappointed for the horse and everyone in Cheltenham when he got beaten because I just think the world of him. It’s some thrill to ride a horse like this.
“Jumping won the race for him. As fast as we were going, at the back of every fence I was able to get a breather, I jumped so well. There was no let up and he’s shown the real horse today.”