Eb delight for Willie Mullins

Ebaziyan got back in the winning grove at Punchestown by taking the Ollie Finn Supporting Go Racing In Kildare Hurdle at Punchestown.

Ebaziyan got back in the winning grove at Punchestown by taking the Ollie Finn Supporting Go Racing In Kildare Hurdle at Punchestown.

Willie Mullins’ Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner had been below par to date this season, although he had kept the best sort of company.

However, dropped considerably in grade, Davy Condon never had to get too serious with his mount and the 2-5 favourite was pushed out to beat long-time leader Sabina Park by one and three-quarter lengths.

William Hill left the winner unchanged at 33-1 for the Champion Hurdle and 20-1 for the totesport Trophy.

Mullins said: “He didn’t like that gluey ground.

“I’m glad to get that win as it may be his only success this season. He will be campaigned at Grade One level for the rest of the year.

“His likely next target is the AIG at Leopardstown, followed by the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle and then back to Punchestown for the Festival meeting.”

Ado McGuinness appears to have a nice sort on his hands with which he can go to the big spring Festivals.

Beau Michael (7-2) followed up a recent Leopardstown win in fine style in the Punchestown Juvenile Hurdle and made all the running under Davy Russell.

Dermot Weld’s Prince Erik, sixth in the Irish Derby behind Soldier Of Fortune, finished fourth.

“The horse has improved again,” said McGuinness.

“I was a little worried about the ground but he handled it well.

“Davy felt he handled it and that he had a little bit left in the tank.

“I’ll give him a breather now and bring him back probably for Cheltenham, but there is also the four-year-old hurdle at Aintree to think about.”

Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle-winning jockey Conor O’Dwyer will remember the day for a long time as he saddled the first winner of his training career.

O’Dwyer, who has enjoyed memorable days at the Cheltenham Festival with Imperial Call, War Of Attrition and Hardy Eustace, was on the mark in the Club Fundraising (Pro-Am) INH Flat Race.

The landmark horse was Hangover (8-1), owned like War Of Attrition by Gigginstown Stud and ridden by Padraig Roche.

“I’m obviously delighted to get the first one on the board and it’s great that it is at Punchestown,” said O’Dwyer.

“He was the first horse in the yard when we started so he’s quite an apt first winner.

“But I must admit he has caught me a little by surprise as we thought he would have to go over hurdles before he won a race.”

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox