Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Sir Des Champs back with a bang at Thurles

Former Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Sir Des Champs made a successful return to action after 691 days on the sidelines, when delivered with a well-timed challenge to land the Listed Boomerang Horse & Country Store Chase yesterday afternoon at Thurles.

Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up Sir Des Champs back with a bang at Thurles

Easy to back in light of substantial support for Mala Beach, Bryan Cooper rode a very patient ride on the returning two-time Cheltenham Festival winner as Rubi Light set off at a decent gallop, gradually building a substantial advantage over the field.

That lead looked all the more significant when Mala Beach crashed out at the ninth, and he still looked to be in command as he turned for home in isolation.

However, Cooper began to make a move aboard the favourite, who moved into second place on the turn and quickly made inroads on the long-time leader.

By the second-last, Rubi Light looked in trouble, and Sir Des Champs went to the front going to the last, before easing clear to win with plenty to spare.

“It took him a mile and a half or maybe two miles to warm up, but that’s his style of racing,” said winning trainer Willie Mullins. “He doesn’t like to be hurried early on. He shows far more in the last third of a race, and that’s the way he’s best ridden.

“At least he’s on the way back. He had his trip, had his ground, and had all the allowances. I was just hoping he’d come right as I didn’t work him for the race.

“Obviously he’s a horse that has had problems, but he hasn’t given me a day’s worry since he came back. He’s had plenty of time, and there’s a lot to look forward to. He’s entered in everything, but the Lexus will probably be his next race.”

Of Mala Beach, trained Gordon Elliot reported: “Davy (Russell) said he was giving him a great spin, but there was a communication error — Davy was going to pop it, but the horse just stepped into it.”

The opening Beginners’ Chase looked a potentially informative and competitive race but, after two fences, it developed into a schooling session for high-class hurdler Ttebbob.

Odds-on favourite Moyle Park made a mistake at the first fence and his rider, Ruby Walsh, quickly pulled him up, while that one’s stable companion, joint third-favourite Net D’ecosse, took a tumble at the second.

By this stage the Robbie Power-ridden Ttebbob had established a clear lead and it was one he would never relinquish. An impressive display of jumping aided his cause as he travelled strongly with a healthy advantage. Power was able to coast up the home straight to beat All Hell Let Loose.

Trainer Jessica Harrington said: “I’ve been looking forward to that (chasing debut) for a long while. I schooled him around Punchestown on Monday, on his own, and he was brilliant, so the only worry was something taking him on over the first couple.

“I know he’s won over three miles but he has plenty of speed. Robbie took him back from the third-last, and had another breather before the last.

“I’ll probably run him in the Grade Three Klairon Davis Novice Chase at Navan (December 5) and he’ll run at Leopardstown over Christmas.”

Of Moyle Park, Mullins reported: “He’s very sore. He hit the fence with his hindquarters and probably pulled a ligament, but he’s walking.”

Gigginstown House Stud had the first two home in the INH Stallion Owners EBF Rated Novice Hurdle, the Elliott-trained, Jack Kennedy-ridden Roman Gold asserting late to beat Just Cause quite readily.

“I was a bit worried about him staying the trip,” admitted Elliott. “I thought two-mile-six might be a bit far, but Jack gave him a nice ride, got him settled well. He’s likely to go jumping fences now.”

Mullins supplemented the earlier success of Sir Des Champs when odds-on favourite Myska took the Thurles Mares’ Maiden Hurdle in the hands of Ruby Walsh.

Somewhat keen throughout and not entirely fluent at her hurdles, she clearly possesses a tremendous engine as she challenged travelling strongly at the last, and only had to be pushed out to beat the well-backed Princess Lir.

“That’s not her ideal trip, and she pulled too hard and was very novicey,” said Mullins. “She needed that experience, and I’m hoping we’ll get lots of improvement over a shorter trip. She has a fair engine, and I think it’d be put to better use over shorter.”

Long House Island, trained and ridden by Denis Hogan, landed a nice gamble in the Liscahill Novice Handicap Hurdle. Available at 11-2 in the morning, the 2-1 favourite travelled well to take the lead before the turn for home and battled well to fend off the challenge of Repeater.

The winner drifted across the track in the closing stages, bringing the runner-up with him but, after a lengthy enquiry, there was no alteration.

There was also an enquiry following the Horse & Jockey Handicap Hurdle, in which 6-1 chance Micras, trained by Pat Fahy and ridden by Ruby Walsh, prevailed by half a length.

She and runner-up Lake Field (7-1 to 2-1fav) bumped a number of times after the final flight, but, again, there was no alteration.

The absence of would-be long odds-on favourite Fulham Road left an open look to the Thurles Flat Race, but the John Joe Walsh-trained Presentingoscar improved significantly on previous form to run out a ready winner under William Cronin.

The winner was bred and is owned by Christy Buckley, Ballinhassig, who was enjoying a second success, following Copy Print’s victory at this track a fortnight ago.

Walsh said: “He always looked a winner, and finished his race very well. He really enjoyed the ground, and will make a nice chaser.”

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