'Heroes' and Sizing John rise to task on switch to chasing
No More Heroes and Sizing John laid down early markers in this season's novice chase division with stylish debut displays at Punchestown yesterday.
No More Heroes is Paddy Power's 8/1 favourite for the RSA Chase after the gelding, trained by Gordon Elliott recorded a resounding success in the beginners' chase over two miles and four furlongs.
A Grade Two winner and placed in the Albert Bartlett last term, the 4/6 favourite fenced like an old hand under Bryan Cooper on his way to a five-length verdict over outsider Futuramic.
"He's made to be a chaser and never missed a beat," Cooper said. "He had a nice blow and there is plenty of improvement in him. He stays all day, maybe three miles, but he also has a turn of foot."
Sizing John - left trailing in the wake of the brilliant Douvan on a number of occasions last season - looked a natural over the larger obstacles in the two-mile beginners chase.
Winning jockey Johnny Burke hailed the 2/11 favourite's performance as "foot-perfect", with trainer Henry de Bromhead excited to see what the season has in store for him.
"I wouldn't be opposed to stepping him up in trip in time but for the moment we'll look at the Craddockstown back here over two miles. It's a race I like," said De Bromhead.
"He wouldn't want either extremes of ground. The day Douvan hockeyed him in Gowran it was heavy but he got a lot closer to him at Cheltenham on better ground and I think he's better on better ground."
The formidable combination of Elliott, Cooper and owners Gigginstown House Stud had earlier landed the two-mile maiden hurdle when Tycoon Prince (1/4 fav) made an emphatic start to his career over jumps.
"He has a serious amount of gears for a big horse and he has a bright future," said Cooper.
Jockey Danny Mullins also enjoyed a double, steering 9/1 shot Bowenscourt to victory in the two-and-a-half-mile maiden hurdle for his mother Mags, before striking gold aboard the Des McDonogh-trained Realta Rathcabhain (11/2) in the handicap hurdle.
Colms Dream (9/4 favourite) completed a hat-trick for trainer Karl Thornton in the handicap chase over two miles and four furlongs under promising young claimer Donagh Meyler.
Thornton said: "I'm hoping he might sneak into the bottom of a good race. He could step up to three miles and I had the Paddy Power (at Leopardstown) in my head."
Jessica Harrington's Don't Touch It justified 2/5 favouritism under the trainer's daughter, Kate, in the bumper.