THE gallant Un De Sceaux was just touched off in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on Saturday but Paul Townend and Willie Mullins manged to bag further Grade 1 success when Min won the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase at the Kildare venue on Sunday.
On his first start of the season, the classy eight-year-old made virtually all the running and while he looked a beaten horse just before the final fence, he picked up well in great style to beat Gordon Elliott’s Hardline by two and a quarter lengths.
Robert Tyner enjoyed a cosy success with 100/30 chance Carrigmoorna Pine in the opening maiden hurdle at Clonmel on Thursday. Owned by the Old Fools Partnership and ridden by Phillip Enright, the six-year-old raced to a seven and a half-length victory over Stormy Judge.
The winning trainer’s wife Mary said, “It was a suitable race for him and hopefully we'll find something for him at Christmas now. We had no plan really and wanted to see what happened today. He will now probably go chasing as he is a big horse, but we'll let him get over today first. His owners are from Dungarvan and the win keeps everyone happy.”
Davy Russell shared another winner with Gordon Elliott as The Storyteller got on top late on to land the 3m conditions’ hurdle. Sent off a 6/1 chance, the eight-year-old gained his first success since last year Punchestown festival when wearing down the front-running Mary Frances to score by a length and a half for owner Pat Sloan.
Russell landed the opening winner at Navan on Saturday where he partnered the Gordon Elliott-trained Festival D’Ex. The well-backed 5/4 favourite looked to have plenty to do between the final two flights but picked up in impressive fashion from the last to beat the Henry De Bromhead-trained Fusain in the closing stages.
Doneraile trainer William Cronin and his amateur rider son and namesake scored a 33/1 success with Southerner in the 2m4f handicap hurdle at Cork on Sunday. The nine-year-old came from off the pace to lead on the run-in and beat An Marcach by a length.
The winning rider commented, “We always thought he had ability, he was fourth in a bumper and his runs in maiden hurdles weren’t too bad. He could drop back to two miles as he was hard on himself there and is not short of pace at that level. He’ll probably go to Limerick at Christmas now.”
Un De Sceaux, owned by Edward O’Connell of Glanmire, is approaching his 12th birthday and came close to being the oldest horse ever to win this famous race.
Speaking to The Echo Colm O’Connell was still trying to get over the disappointment but believes their horse is a dream to be associated with.
“He’s the horse of a lifetime and were thinking about taking the ear plugs out for this race to see what would happen and in hindsight that would have been a mistake as I know the Racing fraternity in general love this animal,” said O’Connell.
A group of 33 supporters departed Cork on Saturday morning to take in the big race and although going so close they all returned in good sp
irits to Leeside with Colm and his family now planning what is next for the superstar who has accumulated 1.5 million in prizemoney during his illustrious career.
“He ate up this morning and arrived back in Willie Mullins yard in tip top shape and now we are possibly thinking about bringing him to Leopardstown in early February and what a story it would be if we could get him back to Cheltenham.
“We have had the most wonderful six-year journey with this horse and although we know it’s coming to an end the majestic memories will never leave us.”