Silver the highlight of Mullins Grade 1 treble

WILLIE MULLINS’ Golden Silver, a proven mud-lark, showed he is just as effective on a sound surface when landing the Champion Chase at Punchestown yesterday.

He is owned by Violet and Archie O’Leary, who had to miss the race, however, due to a family bereavement.

On yet another terrific afternoon for Mullins - he won all three Grade 1’s on the programme - Golden Silver had far too much speed for his rivals, after Twist Magic had planted himself at the start and refused to race.

Said Mullins: “We changed our tactics from Cheltenham and waited a bit longer. We felt we made too much use of him at Cheltenham.

“Paul (Townend) took his time and I couldn’t believe how well he was travelling. He obviously doesn’t show his ability until we get it out of him at the racecourse, because he doesn’t show anything like that at home. We are just getting the hang of him, we thought he only had class on heavy ground.”

A mighty leap four out carried Sizing Europe to the front, but he again emptied when the chips were down.

Golden Silver cruised up to him to lead at the last and then forged clear on the flat to beat Forpadydeplasterer, who seems to love filling the runner-up berth!

Said Townend: “He made a few mistakes on the way round, but we got into a good rhythm and has huge ability

“I just let the horse relax, I was probably forcing him too much at Cheltenham. He carried me right to the last and galloped to the line.”

Barry Geraghty said of Forpadydeplasterer: “He ran a great race, but Aintrre and Cheltenham have taken their toll.”

Henry de Bromhead commented on Sizing Europe: “There was no pace, they crawled, this is typical of Ireland. There was no gallop and we had to do all of the donkey work.”

Golden Silver has now won six races, since coming from France, and Townend has been aboard each time.

Both Boylesports and Paddy Power refunded those who backed Twist Magic.

Mullins made a flying start when saddling the first two, Blackstairmountain (Townend) and Flat Out, in the Evening Herald Champion Novice Hurdle.

Blackstairmountain scored with plenty in hand, after Townend had eased him ahead going to the final flight.

“He had a very hard race at Fairyhouse and didn’t particularly shine on the gallops during the week”, reported Mullins.

“He loves that better ground and I will try and win a flat race or two before letting him off. I hope he will make a decent hurdler next season.

“I have always thought a fair bit of him, although I don’t know if he will be good enough for the Champion Hurdle.”

Favourite, General Miller, was very disappointing. He never travelled for Barry Geraghty, struggling in a well beaten fourth.

Nicky Henderson, despite the air chaos, was on hand with General Miller. Said Henderson: “We got a helicopter and made it here and, more importantly, so did the horses.”

Mullins completed the treble when Tony McCoy guided the J P McManus-owned Kempes to victory in the Growise Champion Novice Chase.

One might have thought this three miles plus would test Kempes’ stamina, but he made light of such considerations, sweeping away from the flattering China Rock.

“We felt he was a two or a two and a half mile horse, but this now opens up the whole thing’’, remarked Mullins.

“I was very disappointed at Fairyhouse (Powers’ Gold Cup), when I thought he had a right chance, but the heavy ground killed him. Tony said he was much happier today.”

Philip Rothwell’s newcomer, Divine Rhapsody, bought for a paltry €6,800, streaked away with the €59,000 to the winner Goffs’ Land Rover Bumper.

Powered ahead by Michael Fogarty inside the furlong pole, he stayed on to beat previous winner, Double Double.

Commented Rothwell: “He’s gorgeous and I’m delighted with him. He’s a big weak baby, who has lived on hay and grass for the last two days and wouldn’t eat his nuts. He will be a lovely horse for next season and this is a bonus.”

Divine Rhapsody was returned at 33-1 and paid almost 52-1 on the Tote.

Davy Condon gave Jigalo a superbly sympathetic drive to take the 3 Handicap Hurdle for trainer, Joanna Morgan.

The nine-year-old wore cheekpieces and came there cantering heading to the last. Soon in front, he held on for dear life as Alpine Eagle closed with every stride.

“He deserved that, he kept going up for being placed”, said Morgan. “He will probably go chasing and run on the flat now and we’ll preserve his mark for the Galway Hurdle.”

King Rama was brought down in this race and his rider, Andrew McNamara, suffered concussion. He was stood down for six days.

The two best lady riders in the country, Nina Carberry and Katie Walsh, dominated the Kildare Hunt Cup.

Victory went to Nina, who drove Zest For Life to beat Katie and Wedger Pardy, successful in the contest for the previous two years, by a length and a quarter.

Winning trainer, Enda Bolger, said: “Miss Carberry came to the fore again and this horse could run again here on Saturday.”

Zest For Life is owned by Dermot Cox, who has long been a big supporter of Punchestown.

The layers, who had far and away the best of it for the day, ended on a high note when Robbie McNamara partnered Eddie Hales’ 16-1 first-timer, Spanish Treasure, to easily win the Equitrek Finlay Bumper.

The attendance was 14,177, down from 16,324 last year.

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