HomeNewsWillie Mullins dominates day 1 of Punchestown Festival

Willie Mullins dominates day 1 of Punchestown Festival

It was a Grade 1 double for champion trainer Willie Mullins on the opening day of the 2023 Punchestown Festival as Facile Vega and Energumene took wins at the Co Kildare track.

In a five-runner Champion Chase, where Mullins provided four of the runners, the other coming from the Henry de Bromhead yard, it was Rachael Blackmore on de Bomhead’s Magic Daze that cut out the running.

With the odds-on favourite Energumene making an error three from home, Chacun Pour Soi and Danny Mullins came on their outside, and it was four Closutton horses battling it out heading to the second last.

With Paul Townend and Energumene on the inside of the track, Danny Mullins and Chacun Pour Soi lay down their challenge, and the race was between them heading to the last. As they went head-to-head up the home straight the Tony Bloom-owned nine-year-old won the battle of the French-breds as he had enough to hold off the 11-year-old Chacun Pour Soi by three-quarters-of-a-length and he took his six Grade 1 victory.

Blue Lord came home third with Gentleman Du Mee fourth and Magic Daze the last of the five to finish.

Facile Vega gave Paul Townend and Willie Mullins the first Grade 1 of the 2023 Punchestown Festival. The Hammer & Trowel-owned six-year-old bay gelding, who has finished second to Marine Nationale in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, upheld that form today as he beat two of his stable companions who had finished behind him at Prestbury Park in March, Diverge and Il Etait Temps. The latter was runner-up today with Oliver McKernan’s No Looking Back coming home in third, ahead of Found A Fifty and Diverge.

Winning rider Paul Townend admitted he got a “bit of a fright at the third-last, but he lengthened well down straight for me again. We got it right today and he showed the true horse. I think when he does get a bigger obstacle in front of him, his jumping will come into its own then.”

Mullins had the treble up by race 5 with his son Patrick won aboard Predators Gold in the Goffs Defender Bumper. The Gigginstown Stud-owned four-year-old gelded son of Masked Marvel was purchased by Harold Kirk had two lengths in hand on his stable mate Milo Lises, the mount of Jodi Townend, with Gordon Elliott’s Western Fold filling the third spot under Barry O’Neill.

Shecouldbeanything, fifth in the Grade 1 Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last month, gained some compensation with a four and a half length success in the opening Listed Howden Insurance Brokers Mares Novice Hurdle. Trained by Gordon Elliott, the six-year-old daughter of Malinas was a first winner for Jordan Gainford on his return from injury.

Half an jour later, Willie Mullins doubled-up when taking the Grade B Killashee Handicap Hurdle with Bialystok in the Rich Ricci colours. Ridden by Danny Mullins, the winner led home a 1-2-3 for the champion handler as Tax For Max with Daryl Jacob were runners-up with Tekao and Simon Torrens claiming third spot.

The other Grade 1 on the card went to Mullins, Emmet Mullins this time, as Donagh Meyler steered Feronily to victory in the Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Steeplechase over 3 miles.

Feronily, the only horse proven at the trip prior to today’s race came home at 7/1 and have a length and three-quarters to spare over the Paul Townend-ridden Appreciate It with James Du Berlais third to cross the finishing line.

Three By Two won The Kildare Hunt Club Cross Country Steeplechase for the Ladies Perpetual Cup for jockey Tiernan Power Roche and trainer Denis Paul Murphy.

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