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Report | Punchestown 18th Feb 18

"“We were expecting the placings to be the other way!”"

Last Sunday, the home of Irish National Hunt racing, Punchestown racecourse, was once again host to the Kildare Hunt's annual point-to-point and it was a red letter day for 18-year-old James Murphy who enjoyed his first winner when partnering his father Daniel’s Bothair Clei to victory in the Mongey Communications open for novice riders in the colours of his mother, Geraldine.

The young jockey was having only his fourth ride, all of which have been on the Murphy family's loyal servant. The 13-year-old son of Snurge joined the leader at the last and kept on best to score by two-and-a-half lengths to Rory O'Meara's Coolnagorna Giggs, with long-time leader Mart Lane back in third.

“He has been a great horse for us, that is his tenth winner, he has won five on the track and now five in points," commented the trainer who will keep his charge in similar company going forward. "We will run him away in a few more open’s this season and then we might look at the hunter chase in Fairyhouse later on.” 

Recording a double for the second week running, Jamie Codd had to wait until the penultimate race to get off the mark, steering the Philip Dempsey-trained Carvation to victory in the Dooley Insurance Group five-year-old and upwards mares’ maiden.

Bred in Boardsmill Stud by owner William Flood, the well-connected mare is a full sister to the 2009 Irish National winner Niche Market. Getting her racing career off to a perfect start, the daughter of Presenting travelled comfortably throughout to win snugly by four-lengths over the experienced Berboru, who once again had to settle for the runners-up position.

“We were delighted with that – she jumped great and galloped all the way to the line. We couldn’t be happier,” remarked the Carbury-based trainer. "That is the first winner I have trained for William. I will have to talk to him now to see where we go next.” 
Oscar Contender made amends for a fall on his latest visit to competitive action 11-months ago at Ballyragget for owner/breeders Noel and Mary Walsh to provide Codd with the concluding leg of his double. The Harry Kelly-trained son of Oscar was ridden prominently throughout and eased clear of his rivals approaching the second-last, running out a six-length winner of the Dublin Products Ltd. six-year-old and upwards gelding maiden over Gigiplan Two Seven. 

A future on the track is likely for the seven-year-old according to handler’s brother Jimmy: “He is a nice honest big chasing horse that loves soft ground. We might stay point-to-pointing for the minute to give him some confidence as he was unlucky to get a few falls and then we will look at going to the track." 
There was a thrilling finish for the Goffs four-year-old maiden when the Monbeg Syndicate's Madiba Passion just held the fast finishing Denis Murphy-trained Ontheropes by a head. The Donnchadh Doyle trained Al Namix gelding cut out the running under Barry O'Neill and looked to have put the race to bed when he idled after the last ,which gave the runner-up the opportunity to close by the line.

"He was out on his own a long time and Barry (O’Neill) said that he was doing nothing in front from that last,” reported the wining handler after saddling his first four-year-old winner of the year.

The success concluded a week to remember for the Wexford native, having been responsible for consigning Dlauro, the £410,000 top-lot at the Cheltenham sales four days earlier. 
Bridle Loanan looked to have the Cavan Developments five-year-old geldings’ maiden at his mercy approaching the final fence, only to crash out leaving the fortuitous Push The Tempo in front. Although a lucky winner, the Warren Ewing-trained son of Gold Well posted a definite career best effort to score for owner Leonard Cave.

Four lengths down when handed the lead, Ewing's charge ran out a 12-length winner over Noflashback in the hands of Rory Devine, providing the jockey with his first success of the season. The in-form Antrim handler reported that he had treated the bay gelding for ulcers prior to the success and would now look for a winners’ race if he is not sold beforehand. 
Local handler Peter Maher saddled the first two home in the Quinns of Baltinglass farmers hunt race when Albert Welds' Enniskillen got the better of the exchanges with stable-mate Alpha Male by two-lengths.

The 13-year-old son of Witness Box joined the eventual second at the last and kept on best in the hands of Benny Walsh to land this contest for the third year running. Punchestown has been a happy hunting ground for the winner who has recorded all five career wins at the venue, including the Ladies cup at the 2017 Festival.

“We were expecting the placings to be the other way," quipped Maher who has targets for the pair at the Punchestown Festival later in the season. "Enniskillen will go back to the Ladies Cup and won’t be out before then. Alpha Male just blew up and he will go for the Bishopscourt Cup at the Festival.” 

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