NOTRE PERE jumped and galloped his rivals silly to take the Guinness Gold Cup by a whopping 13 lengths at Punchestown last night.
Given that he currently has a piece of Welsh birch stuck in one of his legs, just underneath the skin, it was some performance.
Reported trainer, Jim Dreaper: “It is a left-over from his win in the National at Chepstow. The birch is about four millimetres long and the vets went looking for it with ultrasound.
“It flared up hugely three weeks after he won the Welsh National. Then it flared up again on March 1, after he had finished second to Neptune Collonges at Leopardstown.
“The advice from the vets was to chance giving him one run and then have it removed, so he will be going off for a little procedure next week.
“This can happen when they drag a leg through a fence. He ran okay against Neptune Collonges in February, but I was aware he wasn’t one hundred per cent.”
Andrew Lynch had Notre Pere on the pace from the start and it was obvious the eight-year-old was revelling in the testing surface. He allowed him lead coming away from the sixth last and the strapping gelding powered clear in the straight to beat Schindlers Hunt and Scotsirish.
“The ground came right and helped him and, maybe, it didn’t suit the others so well”, said Dreaper.
“The plan for him, like every horse, is to win a Gold Cup. On heavy ground he’d have a chance.
“He’s rated 163 now, but would need to improve to the 170’s to compete with the Kauto Stars and Denmans, but hey he’s the best I have.
“He was bang on for today, as he was for the Welsh National. We have got it right a few times.”
Philip Fenton’s Dunguib has to be the most exciting horse this country has produced in a long time.
Brilliant when winning at Cheltenham, he was equally good in the Paddy Power Champion Bumper, simply toying with some very talented rivals.
Essentially, he was never out of second gear for regular pilot, Brian O’Connell, and was galloping all over the opposition throughout.
O’Connell took them out of their collective misery at the three furlong pole, finally letting out an inch of rein.
The response was immediate and decisive. Dunguib lengthened in the manner to which we have become accustomed, shooting away to beat the highly promising Sweeps Hill by nine lengths.
“He travels and quickens and it look as if he is the real deal”, said Fenton. “He seems to be the whole package.
“We probably got to the front too soon, but Brian said he took him there with ease. He should be a really nice novice hurdler.
“He travels so well on the bridle, but when you squeeze by God he picks up. He won’t be over-raced next season. He might start off in a maiden hurdle and will probably have two runs before Christmas.
“The plan will be to go back to Cheltenham for the two-miler, all being well. He’s able to jump and, of course, will get plenty more schooling. He is not for sale.”
Cashmans and William Hill now make him 4-1 favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, while Boylesports offer just 3-1.
The Midnight Club went off a heavily-backed favourite for the Madra Dog Food 21st Anniversary Novice Hurdle and turned what looked certain defeat into glorious victory.
He was chopped for speed early in the straight, as Healys Bar and Sam Adams made the best of their way home.
But Willie Mullins’ charge is blessed with endless stamina and gradually began to close down the leaders under Emmet Mullins.
It still appeared a bridge too far jumping the last, but The Midnight Club found loads on the flat to power between the two in front and score going away in the end.
“Emmet knows the horse inside out and rides him with a lot of confidence”, said Mullins.
“He made a mistake three from home and they just got away from him a bit. I think he will make a real tough chaser over three miles plus and could be a National horse.
“He loves the ground and the trip and, while the ground stays the way it is, might go novice chasing first before heading off on grass.”
Trainer-Mullins went on to complete a spectacular treble, taking his total to four for the two days, with J’Vole and Jayo.
Ruby Walsh gave J’y Vole a typically patient drive, coming from off the pace to take the Ulster Bank Handicap Chase without breaking sweat by 14 lengths.
Commented Mullins: “The trip and ground suited and we might take her to Auteuil now for a Grade 3 hurdle, or she could run over fences there.”
Jayo only had to be pushed out by Walsh to easily beat Jaamid in the Three.ie Novice Chase.
“He is getting his confidence back jumping and he too could go to France”, said Mullins.
No One Tells Me, a creditable third in a handicap at Fairyhouse, made no mistake in the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle.
Enterprisingly handled by Robert Power, the mare led over the third last and pulled out plenty in the straight as both morning-price and on-course gamble, Moville, and Crossdresser, who grabbed the attentions of the stewards, threatened danger.
“The Fairyhouse race stood to her and she was great today”, said trainer, Jessica Harrington.
“She’s a tough little lady and knew what to do. I didn’t think the ground would suit, but us trainers are useless at such things!”
The stewards inquired into the performance of Crossdresser. They were of the opinion he had not been allowed to run on his merits and fined trainer, Gavin Cromwell, €2,000.
The horse was suspended for 60 days and rider, Shane McCann, suspended for 21 days and ordered to forfeit his riding fee.
Bookmakers began the day with a screamer when 25-1 shot Montana Slim ran away with the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle.
Sent to the front off the home turn by Keith Clarke, the winner bounded clear to score by 11 lengths.
* The attendance of 16,246 was well down on last year’s figure of 20,565.
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