Penhill leads Willie Mullins assault on Punchestown prize

Irish champion trainer saddles seven runners in Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle

  • Wednesday 25 April
  • News
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Willie Mullins fires an incredible seven-pronged assault on the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown on Thursday.

The reigning champion trainer claimed this Grade One prize in four consecutive years with the brilliant mare Quevega, but has not struck gold since the last of her triumphs in 2013.

He appears intent on adding to his tally this year, however, saddling over half of the runners in a field of 12.

Leading the septet is Penhill, who returned from almost a year on the sidelines to claim his second Cheltenham Festival success in the Stayers’ Hurdle last month and is the chosen mount of Paul Townend.

The trainer’s son and assistant Patrick Mullins keeps the ride on Bacardys, who fell at the final flight in the same Cheltenham contest.

Mullins junior said: “Penhill came out of Cheltenham very well. Holly Conte who rides him all the time is very happy with him. He did get beat here last year, so that’s a concern, but other than that it’s all systems go.

“I’m delighted to be getting back on Bacardys. I thought he would have been third at worst when he fell at Cheltenham and he’s schooled well and showed no ill effects since.”

Mullins added: “Bacardys won a Grade One novice hurdle at last year’s Punchestown Festival and I’d like to think he can at least get a bit closer to Penhill than he would have done at Cheltenham.”

David Mullins gets on board Faugheen, who steps up to three miles for the first time in an attempt to reignite his career.

The mercurial Yorkhill (Robbie Power), Shaneshill (Danny Mullins), Bleu Et Rouge (Mark Walsh) and Bapaume (Noel Fehily) complete the Closutton clan.

Patrick Mullins said: “We’re trying something different with Faugheen. We’re hoping the step up in trip will give him a new lease of life.

“Yorkhill has won here twice, even though he is better going the other way round.

“Shaneshill, Bleu Et Rouge are all Grade One winners, there’s some good prize-money on offer and hopefully they’ll pay their way.”

Henry de Bromhead’s Identity Thief is back in action 12 days on from winning the Ryanair Stayers Hurdle at Aintree.

The Gordon Elliott-trained pair of Diamond Cauchois and Lieutenant Colonel, Jessica Harrington’s Jezki and Warren Greatrex’s British challenger La Bague Au Roi complete the line-up.

Penhill leads Willie Mullins assault on Punchestown prize

Punchestown 17:30, 26 April 2018

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