Punchestown Day Three Round Up
Tom George was thrilled to enjoy a welcome change of luck at the Punchestown Festival as God's Own caused a huge surprise in the Ryanair Novice Chase in the hands of the irrepressible Barry Geraghty.
The Gloucestershire handler headed to Ireland with a strong team for the week, headed by stable star Module, who lost all chance in Tuesday's Boylesports.com Champion Chase after being hampered by the fall of Hidden Cyclone.
After seeing Parsnip Pete unseat Alain Cawley earlier on Thursday afternoon, George could have been forgiven for catching the next flight home but luckily stuck around to see 25-1 chance God's Own claim Grade One honours.
Arkle runner-up Champagne Fever and Aintree winner Balder Succes were the big two in the market, but having locked horns some way from home there was always a chance their exertions could set it up for those ridden with more restraint.
And as has been the case so often in recent weeks, Geraghty timed his challenge immaculately aboard the British raider as he winged the final fence and repelled fellow outsider Moscow Mannon (20-1) by half a length.
Balder Succes ran with plenty of credit in third, but 5-4 favourite Champagne Fever weakened quickly in the straight and was ultimately well beaten in sixth.
George said: "This week hasn't really gone our way so far and I said to Barry beforehand, 'let's try and complete the course on this one!'
"He had a couple of lengths to find with Balder Succes on his Kempton run last time, but we knew he'd be a better horse in the spring and we were happier coming here.
"He was a very hard horse when he was a young horse and has taken a lot of handling, but he was always very talented and we knew he'd be very good.
"He's a stayer and he'll get further in time. He's almost half-mad and Barry said he goes down to the last and he really wants to do it."
Jessica Harrington enjoyed a stunning few hours ahead of Jezki's much-anticipated rematch with Hurricane Fly in Friday's Racing Post Champion Hurdle.
As well as clinching the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle with shock 20-1 winner Jetson, the Moone handler also took out the Colm Murray Memorial Handicap Hurdle courtesy of 10-1 co-favourite Macnicholson, with Geraghty doing the steering, and the concluding Kildare Post INH Flat Race through the Robbie McNamara-ridden High Stratos (14-1).
There was also a treble on the card for champion jockey Davy Russell, scoring aboard Jetson, Mallowney and Morga.
Having seen his stable star run a number of sound races in defeat of late, trainer Tim Doyle decided to fit Mallowney with a hood for the Three.ie Handicap Chase and it worked at treat as the 8-1 shot beat Art Of Logistics by two and a half lengths.
Doyle said: "He switched off early today and when he does he's a proper horse.
"He's a Listed winner and Grade Two-placed and we'll aim pretty high next season.
"We'll leave it at that for the year and dream away over the summer."
Russell completed his hat-trick aboard 5-1 shot Morga, who made it two from two over jumps in the Drinkwater Construction & Orchid Transport Mares Novice Hurdle.
Formerly with leading Flat trainer Jim Bolger, the four-year-old now runs for Desmond McDonogh, but still in the famous Bolger silks.
McDonogh said: "That's superb, I haven't had a runner for maybe 15 years at the Festival and it's great to get one that's good enough.
"She' rated 93 on the Flat so she's no slouch and Davy was impressed with her.
"Jim (Bolger) has been fantastic to me, the last eight or nine years he has kept me going and I have four or five horses for him."
Trainer John Kenny and leading conditional jockey Ger Fox combined to claim the Avon Ri Corporate & Leisure Resort Chase as 25-1 shot Jacks Island clinched the La Touche Cup, his first victory in over three years.
Kenny said: "He loves it round here and Ger carried out things out to a tee today. He had to lead over Ruby's Double.
"He's an 11-year-old and there's nothing much else for him, so he'll probably come back here on Saturday if he's sound."
Off The Charts (20-1) repelled the late thrust of Bob Keown to take the Naas Court Hotel And Il Fico Restaurant Handicap Hurdle under Mark Walsh.
Winning trainer Dessie Hughes said: "He's not over-big and he won't carry a huge amount of weight, but hopefully he might win another one."