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Tuesday, April 20, 2010



BLACKSTAIR BAGS BIG PRIZE FOR MULLINS




Willie Mullins enjoyed an amazing 2009 Punchestown Festival with 12 wins and he made a bright start to this year’s meeting when Blackstairmountain beat stablemate Flat Out in the Grade 1 Evening Herald Champion Novice Hurdle.

The winner finished second in Grade 2 company at Fairyhouse last time out but relished the decent ground today.

“This is a nice start to the week,” said Mullins. “The winner had a very hard race at Fairyhouse and didn’t show a lot on the gallops when we worked him this week but this just shows the difference the ground makes to him. He loves this better ground. We might try and win a race or two on the Flat with him.

“He had a really hard race at Fairyhouse and probably learned an awful lot. I was disappointed with him at Cheltenham but I think the ground has made a huge difference to him today.

"I decided to run him, even though he had a hard race - he didn't particularly work well during the week but I thought I'd take a chance as there is no point having them well next week.”
The winner received a quote of 33/1 for next year’s Champion Hurdle with Boylesports and that is a likely target for 2011.

“I imagine he’ll stick hurdling next season and we’ll see how far he can go. I always thought a fair bit of him although I don’t know whether he’ll be good enough for the Champion Hurdle.

“A wetter Punchestown might have made a difference to the second, Flat Out, and he could run at Auteuil now.”
A sizeable British contingent have made it to Punchestown, despite the grounding of flights in recent days and among them was Nicky Henderson, who saddled General Miller to finish third.

“We got a helicopter and made it here and more importantly so did the horses,” said Henderson. “General Miller has run a good enough race.”

ZEST FOR LIFE POPULAR WINNER
Enda Bolger, a trainer synonymous with success at the Punchestown Festival, took the opening Kildare Hunt Club Fr Sean Breen Memorial Chase for the Ladies Perpetual Cup with the well-backed Zest For Life.

Nina Carberry was always at the front aboard the 9/2 chance, carrying the colours of big Punchestown supporter Dermot Cox, and the length and a quarter winner could make another appearance this week.

“That’s one down for the week!” said a delighted Bolger. “We set out to make this into a cross-country horse and Miss Carberry came to the fore today. He loves that ground and could come back here on Saturday.

“The lads said that the ground on the cross-country course was lovely, J T(McNamara) said it was beautiful.

“If you wrote this, you couldn’t have done it any better. We planned this since last year but obviously the quicker ground really suited the horse. I am absolutely chuffed because Dermot (Cox) has been a big supporter of Punchestown and it’s a bit like Jonjo, J P (McManus) and A P (McCoy) winning the National - this was our National!
“I have great riders and great staff at home - we all work at it and it comes to you in the end when you do work at it. When you have J T and Nina as your riders, it makes the job very easy.”


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