Impressive Rosa heading for sales

Nicky Henderson sent out the second British-trained winner of the Irish National Hunt Festival as Royal Rosa took the Paddy Power Champion INH Flat Race at Punchestown on Wednesday.

Nicky Henderson sent out the second British-trained winner of the Irish National Hunt Festival as Royal Rosa took the Paddy Power Champion INH Flat Race at Punchestown on Wednesday.

But the Lambourn trainer isn't making any plans for the 14-1 winner as he will shortly be heading for a date in the sales ring at Doncaster.

Like all horses owned by one of the Million In Mind partnerships - this one being Million In Mind 12 - the syndicate agreement states that the horse is to be sold after one year with the proceeds divided among the shareholders.

Henderson will be out to persuade another of his owners to invest in the four-year-old gelding on the strength of this performance.

A winner in bottomless ground at Sandown on his previous start, Royal Rosa found this much faster racing surface no barrier to success as he came clear of Royal Alphabet under Irish amateur Aidan Fitzgerald, scoring by three and a half lengths.

"Don't ask me where he's going next because it probably won't be anything to do with me," smiled Henderson.

"What I can tell you is that he has been schooled over poles and hurdles and he took to it like an absolute natural.

"He was bought completely untried in France by Anthony Bromley and he is going to make a hell of a jumper for someone. I just hope I can persuade someone to step in and buy him."

Henderson explained how he had come to offer the ride to Aidan Fitzgerald, unrelated to stable jockey Mick Fitzgerald.

"I was told he was pretty good and he rode exactly to orders," the trainer said. "I thought it was better to have some continuity and hope that he went as well for one Mr Fitzgerald as he did for the other one!"

The Venetia Williams-trained Tribal Dancer looked set to make a serious challenge for further British honours in the Colm McEvoy Novice Handicap Chase.

But Brian Crowley's mount crashed out at the second-last fence, leaving the race apparently on a plate for well-backed favourite Hedgehunter.

However, it was Hedgehunter's stablemate Rule Supreme who produced a dramatic burst of acceleration to pass the leader in the final strides for a Willie Mullins one-two.

"He is a horse who has had a lot of problems," said Mullins of the winner. "I thought that if he didn't win today at least we would have a very nice novice for next season.

"Hedgehunter ran a great race on ground that was tacky enough for him and he will be trained for the Grand National next year. He jumps and stays all day."

Nicky Henderson's landlords for the week, the Harrington family, also got off the mark for the meeting when 20-1 chance Aye Aye Popeye won the Tattersalls Novice Hurdle.

Jim Culloty was the successful rider on Jessica Harrington's charge.

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