Plenty of options for impressive Solwhit

Seasonal debutant Solwhit repeated last year’s win in the Grade 1 Dobbins & Madigans At Punchestown Hurdle at Punchestown yesterday, recording a convincing victory over Voler La Vedette to justify 11/10 favouritism.

Although reportedly not as forward as for the same race last year, the six-year-old was strongly supported from 11/8 on track and gave his supporters no worries, tracking front-runner Donnas Palm and jumping with his customary zest until Davy Russell made his move turning for home.

Soon in front, Solwhit had the race in safe-keeping going to the last and, despite tiring on the run-in, had two and a half lengths to spare over Voler La Vedette at the line, with Donnas Palma length and a half away third,

After seeing his stable star record his sixth Grade 1 win, trainer Charles Byrnes stated: “He did it well and I’m very happy with him. He was so relaxed out there and just lobbed away. He got a bit tired after the last, but that was to be expected.”

He added: “He jumped and travelled and Davy said he had to go on a bit earlier than planned. I’m just happy it’s over.”

Byrnes explained: “He has become so relaxed at home that his work takes nothing out of him. We took him away for a few gallops and they took nothing out of him either. He’s so lazy and relaxed.”

While outlining plans for the coming months, Byrnes, who trains Solwhit for the Top Of The Hill Syndicate, emphasised: “He won’t be trained specifically for Cheltenham.

“We’ll target all the Grade 1’s during the year, races likes the Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas and the Irish Champion in January.”

And a step-up to two and a half miles is also on the cards, as Byrnes explained: “He’ll have no problem getting two and a half miles. He’s in the Hatton’s Grace (at Fairyhouse on November 28) and will go there if he’s okay. Any time we ran him quickly in the past, he never ran up to his best. But he’s become so relaxed it’s worth a try.”

Solwhit could well face a rematch with both Voler La Vedette and Donnas Palm in the Hatton’s Grace as both Colm Murphy and Noel Meade intimated that their respective charges are likely to be Fairyhouse-bound.

Murphy was pleased and philosophical about Voler La Vedette’s valiant second, the best effort of her career in Grade 1 company, commenting: “I’m delighted to bits. It was a case of having to run her here, because there are not too many option for a good mare like her. She settled really well and, although she was probably outpaced after the second last, she stayed on well and should get two and a half miles, no bother.”

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