Sport Punchestown

Sunday 23 September 2018

Six-shooter Mullins in command of title race

9,802/1 six-timer earns champion trainer over €450,000 in prize-money to overtake Elliott

Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: PA
Trainer Willie Mullins. Photo: PA

Michael Verney

The race for the Irish trainers' championship looks to be all but over after Bellshill's Gold Cup victory led a sensational 9,802/1 six-timer for Willie Mullins at Punchestown to see him overtake title rival Gordon Elliott.

The Closutton maestro lived up to his moniker as the 'King of Punchestown' to leave punters smiling as he collected prize-money of €500,625 yesterday to end the day €48,161 in front despite trailing Elliott by €405,839 at the start of proceedings.

Bellshill - ridden by the trainer's nephew David - announced himself as a Cheltenham Gold Cup contender next year by leading home a Mullins 1-2 in the €275,000 feature as he spearheaded three Grade One victories in quick succession along with Next Destination and Tornado Flyer.

Paul Townend was the hero on day two as he bounced back in style from his horror show aboard Al Boum Photo on Tuesday to record a 54/1 three-timer for his boss aboard Pravalaguna, Next Destination and Patricks Park.

Willie's son Patrick fittingly rode the final leg of his sextet of winners aboard Colreevy in the last and joined Townend at the head of the race for Punchestown's top jockey after an astonishing day for the Carlow team.

"I can't remember how many fingers to put up," Mullins said after racing concluded. "It's an extraordinary day, it's like fantasy racing, we came here today under a bit of a cloud after yesterday but what a reply from everyone."

With a strong team including Footpad, Penhill, Laurina and Melon still to come over the next three days, Mullins has assumed a commanding lead at the head of affairs as he looks to add to 12th trainers' crown, and his 11th in a row.

Paddy Power cut Mullins to 1/10 favourite (from 11/10) for the Irish jumps trainers' crown, while Elliott, without a winner yesterday, faces a mountain to climb and has drifted to 5/1 (from 4/6 favourite) as he bids for a maiden title.

Irish Independent

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