Disko makes impressive debut, but Cheltenham ruled out

It was a case of the best wine being kept until last in Punchestown yesterday as the Noel Meade-trained debutant Disko proved the undoubted star of the show when bolting-up in the bumper.

Disko makes impressive debut, but Cheltenham ruled out

Gigginstown House Stud have won a succession of bumpers this season, primarily thanks to Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott.

But Noel Meade couldn’t disguise the high regard in which he holds Disko after his fifteen lengths victory over Chain Gang.

Jezki’s half-brother Jett was an uneasy favourite in the wake of support for the winner.

And, having made the running, the favourite had little to offer as Nina Carberry produced Disko to challenge before the straight.

Soon in front, the grey Martaline gelding stretched in good style up the straight to triumph, eased down, by fifteen lengths, with Jett only fourth.

“He’s been good at home but, sometimes, they don’t show it when they get to the track,” said Meade,

“He’s good already and could be a real one. He does everything right and didn’t turn a hair coming here today. He’s well balanced and settles well and what I really like is that he stays well and yet quickens and lengthens.

“He’s only four and is definitely not going to Cheltenham – he’ll do plenty of schooling at home through the spring and will have one more run, probably in the good four-year-old bumper in Limerick (March 29).”

Out of luck with Jett, Jessica Harrington had earlier won the featured punchestown.com Mares hurdle with Rock The Moor, ridden by Robbie Power to see off Analifet in convincing style in a race which saw favourite Little King Robin make the running before making a bad mistake at the third last and dropping away tamely.

“I thought she was very unlucky when she fell in Fairyhouse,” said Harrington. “But Robbie said she never jumped as fast as she did today.”

When quizzed about plans for the Flemensfirth mare, she responded: “There’s no point in going to Cheltenham to take on Annie Power. So we’ll go for the Grade 1 mares novice at Fairyhouse and then come back here for the Festival.”

Tom Mullins took the training honours with a double for J P McManus in the opening maiden hurdles, sparked by the victory of 20/1 shot Some Article (Niall Madden) in the opener.

Winner of a good bumper on the track as a four-year-old, Some Article beat favourite Investmentsuccess, prompting his trainer to confess: “That’s a bit of a surprise, although he won the Goffs bumper here and must like the place. He had a year off and ran no race in Naas the last day – he has to be ridden handy and in the mix.”

The Mullins-trained favourite Oscar Knight took command, under Mark Walsh, turning for home in the INH Stallion Owners Maiden Hurdle and looked set for a clear-cut win. But he idled on the run-in and only held the late flourish of Undressed by a half-length.

“I’m thrilled with him – he jumped great and just got lonely in front,” said Mullins.

“Mark needed a big jump at the last and got it. He looks a handicapper and could go to Fairyhouse, for a handicap or novice, and come back to the Festival here.

“He’ll definitely go chasing next season.”

After Ruby Walsh partnered 7/4 favourite Queens Wild to victory over market rival Why Not Thistle in the mares maiden hurdle, trainer Eddie Harty admitted: “I rode for Mr Guiry (owner Robert Guiry) in the seventies and it’s great to train a winner for him – he’s bred a lot of good horses.

“This mare will be even better over three miles and, because opportunities are limited for her, we might have to travel to England now. She’ll jump a fence next year.”

In the handicap action, the McNamara brothers fought out the finish of the Festival Free Upgrade Handicap Hurdle as front-runner Bold Optimist, trained by Ray Hackett, rallied gamely for Andrew on the run-in to foil the flattering Mr.Eko (Robbie) by a head in a blanket-finish, with favourite Bog War a close third.

Adrian Heskin brought Denis Foster’s 16/1 shot Kentucky Star with a well-timed challenge to land the festival Hospitality Handicap Hurdle at the expense of longtime leader Samanntom.

The winning trainer confirmed: “He’s had lots of problems, but he’s a nice horse. He was seriously badly cut when he ran in Fairyhouse as a young horse. He had to be treated in the clinic for a month and was in his box for six months. So it’s good to have him back and he should make a smashing chaser.”

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