Castlegrace Paddy took full advantage of the early exit of Great Field to run out a most impressive winner of the Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase at Cork.
Great Field was sent off the 4-7 favourite for the Grade Two contest and was bowling along in front when coming down at the second fence, leaving former Champion Chase hero Special Tiara in front.
Henry de Bromhead’s runner opened up a sizeable advantage, but came back to the field and Castlegrace Paddy and Paul Townend landed in front four from home and really asserted going to to two out.
By the time he got to the last he only had to jump it, and that he did before cruising to a 16-length success from Doctor Phoenix, with Special Tiara hanging on for third.
Delighted trainer Pat Fahy said of his 13-2 winner, who has been beaten just once in four starts over fences: “It was a pity Andrew Lynch couldn’t ride him as he’d all the schooling down with him, but he got injured. I was delighted to get Paul to fill in.
“He wasn’t jumping fluently in Punchestown and ran a bit flat, but he’s summered fierce well and was in great shape coming here. He’s just a different horse this year. He’d a few problems last year, but is all there now and has had no injuries.
“He was working out of this world and if we didn’t win here we were going to struggle this year.”
He added on future plans: “He’ll probably go to Leopardstown now at Christmas and if he performs well hopefully he can go on to Cheltenham in March.
“After that he suffers from allergies and that may have been his problem in Punchestown. When the growth starts, the pollen starts so we’ll aim to have him at his peak in March.
“Paul said he would be better going left-handed. He handled that ground well, but he seems to be versatile enough.
“Today Great Field came down and we were there to pick up the spoils. If he stayed up it would have been some race, but you have to get your bit of luck as well.”
Great Field’s trainer Willie Mullins was at Punchestown, where he said: “Great Field is fine and Jody (McGarvey) is fine.
“The horse got up and galloped around and jumped afterwards. David Casey (assistant trainer) was very happy with him anyway.”
Derrinross shed his maiden tag in the best possible fashion as he made nearly all in the Kerry Group Stayers Hurdle.
The seven-year-old was having just his sixth start under rules and turned in a smart display in holding all-comers in the Grade Three event over three miles.
Jumping well, he had challengers looming after the fourth-last on the run to three out, and while Pleasure Dome and then Sams Profile did their best to serve it up to Philip Dempsey’s charge, the 16-1 chance was not for passing.
If anything he was in fact going away again at the end in the hands of the trainer’s son, Luke, with four lengths the margin of victory over Sams Profile.
Dempsey said: “My father (Des) died a few weeks ago and it’s his horse. Luke told him the week before he died that he’d win on him, and maybe we had a little help from above.
“He was a very hard horse to keep sound last year. He wasn’t doing a stroke in front, the ears pricked and he’d love that ground. When they came to him he’d always find.
“He was a good point-to-point winner. We hadn’t any luck with him up to this and we were going to go chasing. On that performance you would have to think of staying hurdling.
“We had him in the last few weeks, but the ground was too quick for him. I was talking to his other owner, Tom Furlong, who does the gallops, and suggested we’d go for this.
“I was hopeful as we have never had such a run with him. He’d bits of problems last year, but we were very happy with the way he was moving this year. I knew he’d like the ground and I knew he’d like the trip.
“He has a little nick, but it doesn’t look too serious and he could go for something like the three-mile graded novice hurdle at Limerick over Christmas.”
Camelia De Cotte took Grade Three honours in the Kerry Group Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase.
The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old has taken well to fences and dominated this extended two-mile event from the front.
Ridden by Townend – who was recording a four-timer, the fourth such haul of his career – the Rich Ricci-owned six-year-old powered to a six-length triumph over Moyhenna.
Assistant trainer David Casey said of the 11-4 winner: “She enjoys jumping fences. She wears her heart on her sleeve a bit and is forward going, but is sensible jumping-wise. She’s progressing away.
“The fences have settled her down a bit, but she enjoys getting on with it and jumps well. It was probably to her advantage that one or two behind her missed a few, but jumping is the name of the game.
“I was a bit worried today giving away weight with the penalty, but she carried it well.”