Punchestown charge means Willie Mullins retains Irish jumps championship

Willie Mullins will officially be crowned Ireland's champion jumps trainer for a 12th time on Saturday after his placed finishers in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle gave him an unassailable lead in this year's thrilling title race.

Mullins started the Festival €521,413 behind his big rival Gordon Elliott, but trebles on Tuesday and Thursday and a remarkable six-timer on Wednesday saw him head into the penultimate day with a lead of €424,148.

That significant lead further increased to €485,148 after Kemboy justified 11-4 favouritism in the EMS Copiers Novice Handicap Chase and Elliott needed the previously unbeaten Samcro to prove his worth in the Champion Hurdle to keep his diminishing hopes of claiming a first title alive.

However, Samcro departed three flights from home and while Mullins did not manage to claim victory - with Jessica Harrington's Supasundae coming home in front - he saddled the second, third and fourth home in Wicklow Brave, Bleu Berry and Coquin Mans respectively, to move into a €550,648 advantage that meant he would retain his crown.

- PA

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