The Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown has an illustrious recent roll of honour which includes Getabird, Min, Douvan and Vautour so there was considerable interest in the latest renewal at the south Kildare track last Sunday.
Gordon Elliott came up trumps, surprisingly for only the first time, when 11/4 chance Felix Desjy proved a plum spare ride for Sean Flanagan as Davy Russell had been stood down after a heavy fall from Ange D’Or Javilex in the opener.
Willie Mullins has dominated this contest, but while his Buildmeupbuttercup was sent off the 9/4 favourite, she didn’t have quite the same high profile as many of his previous winners.
It was a big step up for the filly from an impressive Navan maiden hurdle win, and she never really figured, with her jumping a bit sketchy at times.
She was found top be “blowing hard” post race and a few runners from the Mullins yard have disappointed in recent weeks, though the Closutton outfit are still sending out plenty of winners.
The winner had disappointed a few times already this season, but Elliott felt being allowed to bowl along in front made all the difference, and that he jumped a lot better too under those circumstances.
He’ll most likely appear next at the Dublin Festival in Leopardstown in two weeks time, and the Supreme Novices will be his Cheltenham target. Making all the running in that would be a tall order, though Ruby Walsh brilliantly managed it with Champagne Fever a few years back.
Elliott was later on target with Vision D’Honneur, a 5/4 market leader who scooted home for Jack Kennedy, and the popular Meath trainer made no secret of the fact that he rates this five year old very highly indeed.
“We fancied him big time first time out at Leopardstown at Christmas and he didn’t do much wrong, but the three who finished in front of him all had previous racecourse experience.”
“He was a bit green again today but learned a lot and will improve from it. He would have no problem going up in trip. He should be one for the Dublin Festival.”
Stay at home punters must have been staggered at Winter Escape winning at 12/1 in the novice chase.
The Aidan Howard trained, J P McManus owned eight year old was completing a hat trick and looked way over priced when beating the younger and far less experienced 5/4 jolly A Plus Tard with the pair a mile clear of the rest.
Howard hadn’t expected to beat the favourite to whom they had to concede a stone, and both horses must be followed for the rest of the season.
Two gems from Declan in his Irish Racing Service this week, Numerian 11/1 (won 8/1) and Global Racing 9/1 (won 9/4 fav.) who was described as “gamble of the day, won with a bit to spare” by the Racing Post. Other winners French Made 3/1; Ifyoucatchmenow 9/4 (won 7/4); Getaway John 9/4 and Vision d’Honneur 5/4.
Why not sign up now in time for the Dublin Racing Festival in two weeks time?