Annamix comes good to give Townend maiden century

For the third time in seven runnings, trainer Willie Mullins took the Suir Valley Chase at Clonmel, and on this occasion it was the Paul Townend-ridden Acapella Bourgeois who prevailed, leading home stable-companions Yorkhill and Polidam.

Annamix comes good to give Townend maiden century


For the third time in seven runnings, trainer Willie Mullins took the Suir Valley Chase at Clonmel, and on this occasion it was the Paul Townend-ridden Acapella Bourgeois who prevailed, leading home stable-companions Yorkhill and Polidam. The returning Yorkhill, winner of four Grade 1s at his peak, headed the market but he was keen going to the start and that, allied to the fact it was quite clear Acapella Bourgeois was keen to set off in front, saw a compression of the latter’s odds from 5-2 to 7-4.

Townend duly set off in front, with the company of Poli Roi through the early stages, and gave a bold sight at his fences. Yorkhill moved up on his inner coming down the hill for the final time, but the leader had kept a bit up his sleeve for the final straight. Yorkhill tired markedly in the closing stages and it was noticeable over the final two fences, at which he jumped markedly to his left. That left Acapella Bourgeois to come home clear to secure a first victory since joining Mullins and, in the process, to complete a double for Townend.

“He enjoyed the way the race was run today,” said Mullins. “He was jumping out of his skin. Whether over hurdles or fences, we’ll look for a similar contest for him.”

The Grade 3 Imperial Call Chase, in Mallow, could be on the agenda for the winner. Of Yorkhill, he added: “He promised to run a race and Ruby thought he’d go and win going to the second-last, but he needed the run.

“I’m delighted I ran him because at least we got that far in him. He jumped fairly straight and it was only when he got tired that he came out. He took a huge blow afterwards. I’d like to keep him to races where he can finish on the podium rather than go across the water (to Aintree) where he would be taking on hotshots.”

In his short career to date, Mullins’ Annamix has commanded more column inches than his achievements on the track have warranted, but his first success, in the Goatenbridge Maiden Hurdle, is worthy of the headlines it will receive as it was the one hundredth winner of the season for Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning jockey Townend.

The winner, who was long-odds favourite for the last two Supreme Novice Hurdles, has clearly been difficult to train but the market suggested this was an opportunity he wouldn’t let slip.

Raya Time was his nearest rival in the market and in the race but, in receipt of 8lbs, Annamix did just enough to deny his game rival by a length, the pair a long way clear of the remainder.

Said Mullins: “I didn’t think I’d be coming to Clonmel to break that fella’s duck. We’ll run him where we can before the end of the season. I was keen to go novice chasing with him - that’s why I said we may as well try and win a maiden hurdle with him.

It’s a great achievement by Paul to ride 100 winners, and Rachael is also having a wonderful season and hopefully she’ll get 100 before the end of the season.

Of his own achievement, Townend said: “It’s good to get it, and things have been flying since the start of the summer. We’re enjoying a purple patch, and long may it last. “I’ve been trying a long time now (to reach 100 winners in a season), and it’s my first time to get there. It’s something special – a nice milestone.”

A little late support for Noureev, prior to the start of the Ardfinnan Maiden Hurdle, proved shrewd as the grey landed the spoils for trainer Gearoid O’Loughlin and jockey Mark Enright. It was a second winner for his young trainer, the previous one also coming at this track, prompting O’Loughlin to joke: “I’ve a hundred-percent record here.”

Slieverue, Co Kilkenny, trainer Eoin Griffin was on the mark in the Vee Handicap Hurdle with the Ricky Doyle-ridden Scotch Quay.

Said Griffin: “He finally got there. I didn’t think it would take as long, as he doesn’t go too badly at home. Today the ground was perfect for him. Maybe there might be another day for him.”

Littlestickarubarb ran out an easy winner of the Slievenamon Beginners’ Chase but his effort was aided by a fine tactical ride by Bryan Hayes. Racing across the top for the final time, Hayes suddenly injected some pace into the race and, in doing so, stole a clear lead on his rivals. It may not have been the winning of the race, but it certainly made the remainder of the race much easier for his mount, who raced unchallenged from that point.

“She had a great run on her first run over fences at Tramore, when she was only beaten a couple of lengths by a horse (Crazyheart) that won since,” said winning trainer Mick Winters.

Highest Benefit got of the mark in his career when taking the Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Chase for Willie Austin and rising star Darragh O’Keeffe.

The Next Meeting Holy Thursday Bumper went the way of Conflated, for Gordon Elliott, Declan Lavery and owners Gigginstown House Stud. Well beaten into fourth place behind Sempo on his previous start, he won with a nice degree of authority and the half-brother to Ordinary World should develop into a useful jumper.

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