Gold Cup-winning trainer Gordon Elliott recorded a double on the undercard of day three, as the enigmatic Bright New Dawn and back-to-form Missy Tata posted impressive efforts in their respective assignments.
Bright New Dawn condescended to put his best foot forward in the three.ie handicap chase, and that proved more than enough for the Bryan Cooper-ridden 12-1 chance. Clearly in great heart, he travelled like the best horse throughout, and didn’t have to be hard ridden to lead shortly after the last to beat favourite Rock The World.
“When he’s on a going day he’s pretty smart,” said Cooper. “He never missed a beat, bar the second-last. Gordon does a great job with the likes of this lad - he doesn’t bully him, just keeps him fresh, which is why he has gone to three festivals and won at the third one.”
Missy Tata, who looked potentially high-class on debut for Elliott but sustained an injury next time, got her career firmly back on track when routing the opposition in the mares’ novice hurdle. The heavily backed 6-4 chance coasted home clear of the promising Ria D’etel, who also carried the colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede.
“She’s a really nice mare,” said Elliott. “She likes softer ground and we might take her to France.”
Trainer Gavin Cromwell’s light is no longer hidden under a bushel and, with Jer’s Girl bidding for a second grade one success in this afternoon’s Champion Novice Hurdle, the Meath trainer was encouraged by Elusive Ivy’s victory in the opener.
In the hands of 7lb claimer Brien Kane, she was sent to the front early in the straight, pinged the last, and stayed on determinedly to hold The Brock Inn by three parts of a length.
“Having a bit of juice in the ground helped her over this two-mile trip,” said Cromwell. “Everything went to plan, and she’s really turned a corner over the past three weeks. Her summer coat has come, and her work has been the best of her life.
“She’s the work companion of Jer’s Girl so hopefully they have brought each other on. She might go to Galway and then could go chasing.”
‘A one-two for EB and JP’ relayed commentator Jerry Hannon as Quantitativeeasing raced home three lengths clear of stable-companion Cantlow little more than nine minutes after the horses set out to negotiate the cross-country course in the La Touche Cup.
In the absence of would-be favourite Josies Orders, also trained by Enda Bolger and owned by JP McManus, Nina Carberry switched to Cantlow, but it was 9-4 joint-favourite Quantitativeeasing who proved the stable’s best on this occasion.
Sent on a long way out by Mark Walsh, he found plenty to repel his stablemate’s late effort. Despite not having won it since 2010, it was a thirteenth training success in the race for Bolger.
“That was electric to watch,” he said. “Good ground is a big factor for him. He was a very good horse before he came to me, and it’s just a matter of getting him to change gears in these races.”
Uncle Junior has been one of the stars of the cross-country scene for some time, and the 15-year-old raced into retirement with an honourable fourth-place finish in a race which he won last year and in 2012.
The Nicky Henderson-trained Cup Final, whose dam, Asian Maze, won the Champion Novice Hurdle at this meeting in 2005 and Stayers’ Hurdle here in 2006, earned his own place in the Punchestown festival records by getting up on the line to deny 5-1 favourite Jury Duty in the Murray Spelman Handicap Hurdle.
Said winning rider Robbie Power: “It was a little bittersweet because the lads who own the second horse are neighbours of mine. I don’t think they’ll be buying me a pint for a while.”
Willie Mullins picked up his fourth bumper of the meeting when the highly regarded Invitation Only made all the running to take the finale under Patrick Mullins.
“He’s a stayer in the making, and will go novice hurdling next year,” said Mullins. “Patrick was very sweet on him. He could have gone to the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham but he came in late, and is a winter horse.”
* On a bitterly cold and often wet day at Punchestown, the attendance was 16,978, down almost 500 on last year. Bookmaker turnover was €1,131,171, significantly down from €1,406,710 in 2015.
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