Classy Kemboy rules supreme at Punchestown

Another winner for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend

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Kemboy provided Willie Mullins with yet another winner at this year’s Punchestown Festival following a comprehensive victory in the EMS Copiers Novice Handicap Chase.

Fourth in the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, the six-year-old only made it as far as the first fence in the Irish Grand National but bounced back to win a Grade Three at Limerick just a fortnight ago.

Despite the burden of joint top-weight, Paul Townend’s mount was a heavily-backed 11-4 favourite for this 100,000 euro handicap and travelled powerfully on the heels of the leaders for much of the two-mile-five-furlong journey.

A Rated gave the market leader a lead into the home straight, but Kemboy soon took his measure and powered clear for a five-length success.

Townend said: “He had a lot of weight, but I thought he was open to some improvement and had a good run at Cheltenham. He travelled through the race brilliantly.

“He has his own way of jumping and has figured it out this far, so we’ll leave him at it.

“You’d imagine he could step back into graded company again now.”

It was a second Festival success in two days for the Supreme Horse Racing Club following Cadmium’s triumph in another valuable contest on Thursday.

Steve Massey, racing manager for the successful syndicate, said: “We thought he was going to be a two-miler, but it looks like he’s going to be a staying chaser. He was very unlucky in the Irish National as we really fancied him that day.

“He’s a classy horse but he’s not over big. I think he can go on and improve and he was really good off top-weight.

“There is only 14 involved in this horse, but it looks like there are about 700 here today!”

Alpha Male was a dominant winner of the opening KFM Hunters Chase for the Bishopscourt Cup.

Last year’s winner and 7-4 favourite Das Mooser set out to make all the running, but was no match for Alpha Male from the home turn, with Peter Maher’s 2-1 shot ultimately passing the post 30 lengths clear under Barry O’Neill.

Magic Of Light displayed tremendous courage to battle back and claim top honours in the Hanlon Concrete Irish EBF Glencarraig Lady Francis Flood Mares Handicap Chase.

The seven-year-old was a 6-1 chance to provide Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power with their first winner of the Festival, but she looked set for minor honours when Gordon Elliott’s Goodthynemilan swept by after jumping the second fence from the finish.

However, Goodthynemilan’s petrol tank emptied quickly and Magic Of Light showed a willing attitude to get back up and score by a length and a half.

Elliott also saddled the third home Synopsis, who was sent off the 4-1 favourite.

Harrington said: “Going to the last I thought ‘oh no, we’re going to be second again’. They have been running brilliantly all week but the ground has just been a bit soft for all of them and I thought it was a bit soft for her, but she did it for me.”

Reflecting on the week as a whole, the trainer added: “What Willie has done has been absolutely fantastic – to have all those horses in such good form.

“It makes me want to try harder (to try to compete).”

Caid Du Berlais became a first British-trained winner of the week when registering a wide-margin victory in the Star Best For Racing Coverage Champion Hunters Chase.

Formerly a high-class performer for multiple champion trainer Paul Nicholls, the nine-year-old is now in the care of Rose Loxton and was last seen finishing fifth behind the Nicholls-trained Pacha Du Polder in the Foxhunter Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Ridden by Will Biddick, the 9-2 chance travelled strongly throughout and at one stage looked set for a duel with the remarkable On The Fringe, bidding for what would have been a hugely popular sixth victory in the race.

In the end, however, the 13-year-old found the younger legs of Caid Du Berlais too much and Loxton’s charge pulled right away for a dominant 21-length success.

On The Fringe was narrowly beaten to the runner-up spot by Timewaitsfornoone.

Loxton said: “He has been in training with Paul Nicholls and I work for Paul and I always train a few pointers. Paul asked me to pre-train him this year and because he was happy with me having him, he said to carry on so I was more than pleased with that.

“He is a lovely horse and we were fairly confident he’d be in the first three. It’s absolutely marvellous to have a winner at Punchestown.

“I’m originally from Kinvarra in Galway and met my husband on the Curragh before moving to England 30 years ago.”

Mullins claimed his 14th winner of the week as 9-1 shot Antey got up to score by a nose in the SalesSense International Novice Hurdle.

However, the story of the race was jockey Katie Walsh announcing her retirement from the saddle after returning to the winner’s enclosure.

There was a similarly thrilling climax to the concluding GVA Donal O’Buachalla Property Advisors Flat Race, with Joseph O’Brien’s Lone Wolf (6-1) and Derek O’Connor getting up on the line to deny the ultra-consistent All For Joy.

Classy Kemboy rules supreme at Punchestown
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