The big news from the Punchestown Festival yesterday was the retirement of legendary jockey Ruby Walsh following his win in Coral Gold Cup aboard Kemboy.
Eight went to post for the Gold Cup with the Mullins pair Al Boum Photo and Kemboy the market leaders and Mullins made it three Gold Cups when Ruby and Kemboy beat the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo with Paul Townend aboard by 2l the Elliott trained The Storyteller with Davy Russell in the saddle 22l away in 3rd.
Ruby announced his immediate retirement straight after, saying “You’ll never see me on a horse again. That’s it. I’m done”. The rider with 59 winners at Cheltenham and and 12-time Irish champion jockey left little behind him!
Yesterday opened with the final of the Martinstown Opportunity Series and it was won by JP McManus’s Musical Slave trained in England by Philip Hobbs and ridden by Johnjo O’Neill Jr. winning from Conron and Bay Hill with Falak fourth.
The Connolly Red Mills Auction Hurdle was won by the fav Zero Ten beat The Big Dog and Presented Well. The winner was trained by Emmet Mullins and ridden by his cousin David. In the third race Elimay from WP Mullins’ yard won by but was left clear by the fall of the beaten Vision D’honneur at the last and Days Without End ran on to be 2nd for DK Weld and Valdieu was 3rd for Noel Meade.
In the Grade 1 Novice Hurdle Minella Indo and Rachel Blackmore confirmed the Cheltenham form beating Allaho and Carefully Selected.
The festival opened on Tuesday as second favourite Blue Templar won the Fr. Sean Breen Memorial Hunter Chase, Klassical Dream won the Champion Novice Hurdle, the Grade B Killashee Handicap Hurdle was won by Robbie Power on Pearl Of The West, The Champion Chase once more went to Closutton when Un De Sceaux accounted for his more fancied stable mate, Min.
Meanwhile, the Goffs Land Rover Bumper was won by Festival D’Ex, 7/1, who came from the other parish with a wet sail to beat 66/1 outsider Whatsnotoknow and Papal Pearl.
The penultimate race, the Champion Novice Chase, saw Delta Work came good after his Cheltenham blip to beat Discorama and A Plus Tard.
Racing ended with a 4-Y-O only bumper and a win for the JP McManus owned Front View ridden by Derek O’Connor and trained by Joseph O’Brien.
Today’s card opens with a wide open 25-runner handicap hurdle. The second, a handicap chase, is also open, but if Moon Over Germany has recovered from his Aintree exertions, he should win this. The La Touche, the longest race in Ireland, has only ten runners and while Josie’s Orders will be odds on Peter Maher’s Ballyboker Bridge is e/w value.
In the Grade 1 Stayer’s Hurdle Mullins and Elliott each supply three runners, three English raiders and one Jessica Harrington runner completes the line-up. Bapaume will be favourite for Mullins but he may have to give way to the Skelton brother’s, Dan and Harry, Aintree winner Aux Ptits Soins. In the 3m handicap hurdle with a full card the advice is to stick a pin in them.
The second Grade 1 race the Ryanair Novice Chase has seven runners and the cross-channel raider Defi Du Seuil, twice a winner from Lostintranslation, gets my vote to account for the home team.
In the 2m Mares Novice again Mullins and Elliott go head to head with Elfile and Black Tears and Elfile should win for Mullins. A six-runner bumper looks a tricky affair and with only four points covering the field in betting a case can be made for all six.
Tomorrow’s Grade 1 Punchestown Champion Hurdle sees the dual Champion Hurdle winner Buveur D’Air, last year’s winner Supasundae and the brilliant mare Apple’s Jade head the field. Mullins relies on the dual Champion Hurdle runner-up Melon and Wicklow Brave who won in 2017. The line-up is completed by the dual Grade 1 winner Petit Mouchoir and last season’s Supreme Novices Hurdle winner Summerville Boy.
Martin Brassil’s stable star City Island owned by Oran’s Sean and Bernardine Mulryan is unbeaten on his last five starts, will be looking to follow in the footsteps of the great Istabraq who won the Ballymore Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham before coming on to lift the Grade 1 Champion Novice Hurdle.
Elsewhere on Friday, there is also racing on the all-weather at Dundalk stalls open for the first at 5.20 pm. Sunday sees a flat card at Gowran Park in Kilkenny featuring the Listed EBF Victor McCalmont Stakes over 1m 1f starting at 1.40 pm.
There are two meetings on Bank Holiday Monday on the level at the Curragh and over the obstacles at Down Royal. Ballinrobe hosts its second meeting of the year on Tuesday.
Cross channel it’s Guineas Weekend at Newmarket with Aidan O’Brien looking for three in a row with ante post fav Magna Grecia in the 2000 Guineas on Saturday. There are 17 colts declared for the race on Saturday and 18 fillies for the Sunday’s 1000 Guineas. O’Brien has the second favourite in Fairyland, a place well remembered in Roscommon. David Egan rides the ante post favourite Qabala for Roger Varian.
Punters got off to a bad start when the well-backed favourite Batico did not turn up at Kilbeggan trailing in 4th last behind Trapist Monk, 8/1, and Touch Of Oscar who shared the lead over the last. In the second Flindt trained locally by Dot Love made all to win under Eamon Corbett, from Athlone, despite drifting from 6/1 to 14/1.
The third provided the layers with another win as 10/1 shot Coral Blue won for Seamus Fahey under Cathal Landers from the favourite Scotch Quay.
Tuam trainer David Ryan produced Call Of The Loon to win the fourth at 20/1, Ryan’s first track winner since 2012, continuing the punters’ agony. The beginners Chase provided the first relief for punters as the second fav Gracemount won at 5/2 having been left in front with the fall of Payngo at the final fence. Normal fare resumed in the penultimate handicap chase with Stoughan Cross winning from Belgrove and Hoke Colburn at 20/1.
Paul Nicholls was crowned champion trainer for the 11th time when the jumps season ended at Sandown on Saturday. Nicholls recently became only the third man to train 3,000 jumps winners, won his first title in 2005-06.
In the saddle, Richard Johnson captured his 4th champion jockeys’ title, the only rider since 1995 to win it other than Tony McCoy. Johnson, who rode his 200th winner of the season at Perth on Friday. Bryony Frost was champion conditional rider with 50 winners. JP McManus was leading owner and Tiger Roll Horse of the Year.
Point to Point Corner
Racing on the northern circuit this weekend is set to start at 2.30 pm at Broughshane in Co. Antrim outside Ballymena. There is a quiet day in the south on Sunday with two meetings down for decision, starting at Stowlin near Eyrecourt in Co. Galway and Dromahane south west of Mallow. There is also one meeting down for decision on Bank Holiday Monday at Dawstown outside Blarney in Co. Cork.
There are 84 entries in Broughshane on Saturday and on Sunday 108 runners in Dromahane, and Eyrecourt has 130 entries. On Monday there are 124 entries at Dawstown.
It’s your last chance to win tickets to the first meeting of the season at Lenabane compliments of Michael Finneran and his committee and we want to know what festival of Irish national hunt racing started on the 30th of April and finishes this weekend? Second competition for Kilbeggan and do you know who won the Punchestown Gold Cup this week?
Answers as usual please on a postcard to The Roscommon People, Abbey Street Roscommon or by e-mail to email@example.com by 12 pm Wednesday, May 9th Roscommon and May 16th for Kilbeggan and don’t forget to include your name, address and a contact phone number with all competition entries. As usual all tickets will have to be collected in the office in Abbey Street.