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Brides Hill strolls to Punchestown victory

Brides Hill strolls to Punchestown victory
Brides Hill strolls to Punchestown victory

Brides Hill extended her unbeaten run to four with an impressive victory in the Hanlon Concrete Irish EBF Glencarraig Lady Francis Flood Mares Chase at Punchestown.

Gavin Cromwell’s seven-year-old missed out on running at the Cheltenham Festival due to soft ground but gained ample compensation in this Grade Two contest over two and a half miles.

Paul Townend set out to make it a true test with a positive ride on Allegorie De Vassy, but Sean Flanagan always looked confident and comfortable on 15-8 chance Brides Hill in behind.

They picked off the favourite at the penultimate fence and then powered clear to score by 21 lengths, with Instit plugging on for second for Willie Mullins, while stablemate Allegorie De Vassy faded out.

Cromwell said: “She was very good. I was concerned, as I thought the ground was gone for her, to be honest.

“She was foot perfect, she has had issues with her jumping in the past but she’s become very good now.

“Keith (Donoghue) has done a lot of schooling with her and it’s unfortunate he can’t be on her, but Sean does a lot of work with these horses too and it’s nice to see him getting a day.

“At Cheltenham, we took her out because of the ground, but isn’t it great to win here.

“She’s a talented mare. The ground at Cheltenham this year was a bit of an extreme and it wouldn’t have worked. I’m glad we didn’t run her because we wouldn’t be here if we did.

“It’s been a brilliant season. All the horses are running great and that was my 70th jumps winner for the season. It’s fantastic, 62 was my best, and that was the target.”

Punchestown Festival – Day Four – Friday May 3rd
Hgranca De Thaix ridden by Michael O’Sullivan (Brian Lawless/PA).

Barry Connell and Michael O’Sullivan teamed up to land the Listed-class EMS Copiers Novice Handicap Chase with 16-1 chance Hgranca De Thaix, who stayed on strongly to reel in long-time leader Perceval Legallois and went on to prevail by four lengths.

Connell said: “Lets Go Champ was third to him in Limerick last month and he won the equivalent race on Wednesday, so the form was there in the book.

“That will be his last run of the year. I want to give him a break, as he’s had five runs now. He’s only seven and he could be a Munster National horse or one for the Paddy Power.”

Its On The Line and jockey Derek O’Connor
Its On The Line and jockey Derek O’Connor (Brian Lawless/PA)

Its On The Line and Derek O’Connor both had to dig deep into their respective reserves to complete an Aintree-Punchestown double in the Event Power Champion Hunters’ Chase, just wearing down Lifetime Ambition in the closing stages.

The latter had looked all over the winner when forging ahead after the second last but was steadied approaching the final obstacle by Susie Doyle and that allowed 6-4 favourite Its On The Line to build up enough momentum to swoop on the run-in and claim this prize for the second straight season.

Trainer Emmet Mullins said: “Derek came back in and said there’s not much point in instructions, as he’s a unique animal. He doesn’t make life easy but Derek has the trick to him.

“I was very happy the whole way around until the third last and there was a bit of a panic when Lifetime Ambition went on. Once he got over the second last, I was always fairly confident he was going to get him back.

“He’s very well named, that’s not the first occasion he’s done that. He’s just a horse that you have to hold his hand and bring him along, he’s got a big engine.”

Punchestown Festival – Day Four – Friday May 3rd
Private Ryan ridden by Jamie Scallan jumps the last on the way to victory (Brian Lawless/PA).

Private Ryan (9-4) pulled out just enough to get the better of brave front-runner De Nordener under Jamie Scallan in the opening Stanley Asphalt Hunters’ Chase for the Bishopscourt Cup, restricted to horses owned by local farmers.

“That’s brilliant,” said winning handler Sean Doyle. “We had him as a young horse and we sold him. He appeared in Doncaster last year, he had never raced for Nicky Henderson, as the syndicate fell out, and Henry (Chamney), a local farmer, was looking for something for this race.

“By luck, we stumbled across this lad and he fitted the bill well, so it all worked out. It’s like a dream come true for this man, he’ll absolutely love this. It’s all about getting a kick and it’s absolutely brilliant when it works.”

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