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Teahupoo out for Cheltenham-Punchestown Festival double

Teahupoo out for Cheltenham-Punchestown Festival double
Teahupoo out for Cheltenham-Punchestown Festival double

Teahupoo is out become the first horse this century to do the Cheltenham-Punchestown Festival staying double when he lines up for the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle.

The seven-year-old gave Gordon Elliott back-to-back victories in the Cheltenham Festival’s staying hurdling showpiece in March, storming clear of his rivals to justify his status as well-backed favourite and cementing his place as the division’s number one performer.

Fourth 12 months ago, he will now attempt to finish the season unbeaten in the main event of Thursday’s action in Kildare.

“Teahupoo is in great order and this would look the logical step for him,” said Elliott.

“We didn’t go to Liverpool with the intention of going here and it’s all systems go now for Punchestown. Everything has gone smoothly since Cheltenham and we’re pleased with him.”

Teahupoo skipped the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree last month, while evergreen stablemate Sire Du Berlais was slated to line up there before being declared a non-runner and will also head to Punchestown well rested after a 49-day break.

One who was in action at both Cheltenham and on Merseyside was Paul Gilligan’s Buddy One, who is now given one last chance to get a Grade One to his name over hurdles having improved on his Prestbury Park fourth when runner-up to Strong Leader in Liverpool.

Buddy One has been a star for the Gilligan team
Buddy One has been a star for the Gilligan team (Nigel French/PA)

Gilligan said: “The main one we have to beat is Gordon’s horse Teahupoo, but we’ve been happy with him since Aintree and all has gone well. He has it all to do to beat him, but hopefully he might.

“He seems to take his racing very well, but this will be it and wrap him up for the season. He will go on holiday after this. He came out of Aintree so well within himself, so we said ‘let’s go to Punchestown’.

“He did a nice piece of work last week and everything indicated we should run, so we will see how it goes.

“If we pulled it off it would be great and I guess if he doesn’t take to fences next year then he can always come back over hurdles to run in these races.”

Home By The Lee was third at Cheltenham in March
Home By The Lee was third at Cheltenham in March (Niall Carson/PA)

Ahead of Buddy One but six lengths adrift of Teahupoo in third at Prestbury Park was Joseph O’Brien’s Home By The Lee, with the second highest rated in the line-up bidding to snap a losing run that dates back to Christmas 2022.

He was keeping on strongly at the finish at Cheltenham with his handler optimistic of a bold showing here.

O’Brien said: “He ran well at Cheltenham and has prepared well for this race. Since Cheltenham the plan was always to come to Punchestown and we’re happy with how he has prepared. He has a few lengths to make up with Teahupoo, but we’re hoping for a good run.”

Willie Mullins has won this race 10 times overall, and for the last three years, and will this time rely on the enigmatic Asterion Forlonge and ever-popular Monkfish.

Willie Mullins has a fine record in this race
Willie Mullins has a fine record in this race (John Walton/PA)

The former has mixed and matched hurdles with good effect recently, winning a Cork Grade Three over the larger obstacles last time, while Monkfish has also been seen in both disciplines of late, sixth at Aintree most recently.

Henry de Bromhead is another with two in the contest, saddling both Mares’ Hurdle fourth Lantry Lady and Summerville Boy – who has been knocking on the door in his last three starts.

Mouse Morris’ Coral Cup fifth Franciscan Rock, Fairyhouse scorer Whatcouldhavebeen (Jarlath Fahey) and No Looking Back (Oliver McKiernan) complete the field.

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