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No catching Mullins and McNamara with valuable Punchestown win

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Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Willie Mullins was the big winner at Punchestown yesterday when the aptly-named Ifyoucatchmenow (14/1) got up in the shadow of the post to land the €100,000 BoyleSports Grand National Trial under conditional rider Conor McNamara.

McNamara, son of Limerick trainer Eric and brother of jockey Emmet, was full value for his 5lb claim as he got up late on the seven-year-old mare to collar Mullins' Agusta Gold (8/1) and rip up her recent form.

"She stays every yard of that trip. I thought she would have won more races by now but maybe she just needs that extended trip. She'll struggle to get into the Irish National and she could go for the 3m6f race here at the Festival meeting," Mullins said afterwards.

Gordon Elliott fired a 24/1 double on the card, with Run Wild Fred (14/1) bouncing back from a late fall at Thurles last time out to land the Grade Three Surehaul Mercedes-Benz Novice Hurdle in good style from hot favourite Lord Royal (8/11).

Mark Walsh's mount was introduced to the Albert Bartlett market at 10/1 while Elliott's exciting Pencilfulloflead (4/6 favourite) landed his maiden hurdle emphatically under Robbie Power.

Elsewhere, Jessica Harrington has Tiger Roll in her sights, with Neverushacon (4/1) heading for Cheltenham's Cross Country Chase to try and thwart his hat-trick bid having scored over the banks at the Kildare track under Paddy Kennedy.

"The horse absolutely loves it and roll on Cheltenham. Every time he sees a fence he wants to go again," Harrington said of Neverushacon.

Meanwhile, today's Grade Three Quevega Mares Hurdle (1.40) at Punchestown sees last year's winner Laurina return to the smaller obstacles having disappointed in her last two Grade One starts over fences.

Willie Mullins' seven-year-old is rated 17lbs clear of her nearest rival but stablemate Elfile may be a safer bet in the hands of Danny Mullins given Laurina's inconsistency, while an intriguing Pertemps Qualifier (3.15) sees 2018 Champion Bumper winner Relegate make his debut for Wexford trainer Colm Murphy.

Irish Independent