Sunday 19 January 2020

Don't Touch It too good as Yorkhill disappoints at Punchestown

Red-hot favourite Yorkhill was bitterly disappointing as Don't Touch It claimed victory in the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.

The Willie Mullins-trained Yorkhill was hugely impressive in winning the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at last month's Cheltenham Festival and having followed up in workmanlike fashion at Aintree, he was a prohibitively priced 4-9 market leader to complete his hat-trick in the first Grade One of the week.

However, the warning signs were evident for odds-on backers a long way out, with Ruby Walsh getting to work before the home turn on his first ride back from injury and Yorkhill eventually finished well beaten in fourth place.

Jessica Harrington's Don't Touch It was settled in last place early on by Barry Geraghty, but moved stylishly into contention.

The 16-1 shot hit the front in the straight and although Yorkhill's stable companion Petit Mouchoir kept him honest after the final flight, Don't Touch It knuckled down to score by half a length.

Brain Power was third for Nicky Henderson.

Geraghty said: "We went a strong gallop and they kind of died around me and I was left in front sooner than ideal. He had a look going to the last, but he rallied well and it was a good performance.

"Jessie thought he had a chance and thought it was the right race for him, so it was a good call by her."

Harrington said: "I always felt that better ground would bring out the best in him. He got bogged down the last day and had to miss an intended engagement at Fairyhouse with an infection in his leg. We trained him for here, and he's done us proud.

"It's great when the horses are running well and it can be infectious for the whole yard. That was a hell of a step up as he'd only won a maiden hurdle.

"He jumped great off that ground. They went fast in front but he cruised into it and Barry said he got lairy in front, but then went on again when the other horse came to him."

As well as Yorkhill, Vautour and Outlander were other beaten favourites for Mullins but he ended an otherwise disappointing day on a high as son Patrick guided Cilaos Emery to a successful debut in the Donohue Marquees INH Flat Race.

The French-bred four-year-old was the 100-30 favourite for the concluding race of the evening and after moving powerfully towards the front leaving the back straight, he had just enough left for the closing stages to fend off Someday by half a length.

Mullins junior said: "He works very well, but he's quite a light horse, so we hadn't done any hard work with him. We weren't sure how good he was, but what he was doing in half-speeds is quite good. He's quite green and I think there's a lot of improvement in there."

PA Media

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