IRISH NATIONAL HUNT FESTIVAL 2007
RACENEWS RACECOURSE SERVICE
PUNCHESTOWN, FRIDAY, APRIL 27
CROWD UP ON DAY & WEEK
Today's attendance on the final day of the 2007 Irish National Hunt Festival was 32,883, up 12.4 per cent on the 2006 figure of 29,254.
The total attendance at the four-day Festival has been 90,868, up 7 per cent on 2006.
OSCAR SILENCES JOY
Silent Oscar sprang a 20/1 surprise when winning the feature Grade 1 ACCBank Champion Hurdle on the final day of the 2007 Irish National Hunt Festival at Punchestown.
Harry Rogers’ charge took the lead four out and held off a determined effort from Macs Joy to score by a neck and gave jockey Robbie Power, successful on Silver Birch in the John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree earlier this month, another big-race victory.
“He beat Macs Joy on the Flat at the Curragh and the plan after that was always to come here. We hoped to get a bit of prize money and it has worked out well,” said Rogers.
“The ground is the key to him, he wants it good or with a little bit of ease. When he ran at Leopardstown, the heavy ground didn’t suit and then it was too firm for him at Fairyhouse. But the rest is history now.
“There were a few nervous moments but Robbie was good and they galloped all the way to the line.
“We have him in the Group 1 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and, if the ground stayed right, he could go there. But that could be his last run for a while.”
Power added: “Hardy Eustace probably wasn’t jumping with his usual fluency and I got to the front sooner than I wanted. My fellow was tough and stuck his head out past the line.”
Jessica Harrington, the trainer of Macs Joy, said: “He ran his heart out, but probably lacked a little bit of match practice. Barry [Geraghty] said the horse got tired after the last. He’s not had a hard season, but I just don’t know whether he’ll run again soon. I’ll have to talk to the owners.”
Of fourth-placed Callow Lake, Harrington said: “That was a great effort considering the standard of the race.”
Third-placed Hardy Eustace was on the easy list after Cheltenham suffering from a poor blood count and tight muscles. Trainer Dessie Hughes said after today’s race: “We were pleased with him - that was as good as we could have expected given his preparation. He’ll go out to grass now and we’ll start him off again in the autumn when we’ll be looking to run him in staying hurdles. I didn’t want him to run in the Champion Stayers’ Hurdle at this meeting because I felt three miles would have been tough on him after the hold-up in his work.”
Alexander Taipan, who had not run since falling when in contention for a Grade 1 prize at Leopardstown in February, was given a masterful ride by Ruby Walsh to land the betfair.com Novice Handicap Chase under top-weight.
“The horse wasn’t any help at any stage and I thought it was a really exceptional ride from Ruby,” said winning trainer Willie Mullins. “It’s the first time I’ve seen the jockey come before the horse.
“We’ll put him away now and stay chasing next season. I don’t know how far up the ladder he can go. I thought he was going to become a Grade 1 horse but maybe not.”
Nina Carberry enjoyed her third win of the week aboard Lonesome Day in the opening Newbridge Silverware Chase over the cross-country course.
“Yet again Miss Carberry is something else,” said winning trainer Enda Bolger. “This horse had never won a race in his life until today and we wondered if he was tinker. We tried blinkers and cheekpieces with him but once her ladyship gets on board he just runs for her. I’m just so happy that this horse has had his turn.”
Carberry’s father Tommy saddled 33/1 chance Kings Glen to take the next contest, the Ellen Construction Conyngham Cup Handicap Chase, under amateur Andrew Duff.
“He wants goodish ground but not firm and they have done a great job with the watering. The horse was given a smashing ride,” said Carberry.
MARINA SAILS TO TOP FOR MULLINS
Willie Mullins - successful earlier on the card with Alexander Taipan in the betfair.com Novice Handicap Chase - landed an impressive Grade 1 success when Glencove Marina took the Land Rover Champion Novice Hurdle.
The winner, left clear after a final flight fall for Catch Me, was quoted as 10/1 favourite for next year’s Arkle Chase by Cashmans and Mullins confirmed that a career over fences now beckoned.
“He’ll probably go novice chasing next season so I think he’ll have a break now,” said Mullins. “I thought he’d got to the front too soon but Ruby said he had a lot of horse under him.
“I couldn’t believe how well he was travelling at Fairyhouse last time and that told me we might have a serious horse and this confirmed he was.”