Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 25 November 2017

Mullins team misfires on day of surprises at Punchestown

Willie Mullins (Photo: SPORTSFILE)
Willie Mullins (Photo: SPORTSFILE)
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

A shock defeat for Vautour epitomised what was a frustrating opening day of the Punchestown Festival for Willie Mullins and punters alike.

A year ago, the champion trainer departed the Kildare gala with 10 of the 12 Grade Ones and a record total of 16 winners. However, there was always a chance that his recent aggressive pursuit of the British trainers' title might undermine his prospects, and yesterday his status as the punters' pal suffered a hit on an evening of carnage.

Yorkhill bombed at odds-on under Ruby Walsh in the Herald Champion Novices' Hurdle, likewise Vautour, which couldn't cope with the fractions over two miles in the €200,000 BoyleSports Champion Chase as the Paddy Brennan-ridden God's Own repeated its Aintree heroics.

Then Outlander fluffed its lines in the Growise Champion Chase, Zabana returning a hugely popular winner under Davy Russell for small-scale trainer Andy Lynch.

Mullins took the last with Cilaos Emery and Wish Ye Didnt initiated a first and last race double for favourites, but it was a difficult start for punters. The bookmakers held €955,255 in total.

That was down from €980,285 in 2015, though on a bitterly cold day that mixed sunshine, sleet and snow, there was little doubt layers kept a greater portion this time. The attendance also fell marginally from 20,214 to 19,825.

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