GORDON Elliott was in imperious form on the opening day of the Punchestown Festival with Mighty Potter proving the star turn on the clock of his three hurdle winners in the Grade 1 Bective Stud Novice Hurdle.
The presence of Dysart Dynamo at the head of affairs ensured the pace was strong from the outset with the formative stages run around 15 lengths quicker than the opening listed mares’ contest.
Mighty Potter (153) travelled strongly throughout and outjumped Sir Gerhard (143) at several obstacles even before a particularly quick leap four from home carried Gordon Elliott’s gelding alongside his main rival and in a prime position to strike for home first.
Jack Kennedy took full advantage of his position and was always in control of the race from the third last hurdle, covering the ground from that point to the line in 64.2secs.
Although the sectional times proved to be the slowest of the three races, the overall race time and final circuit time were the strongest as the son of Martaline posted the best speed figure.
The best finishing effort honours went to Party Central (147) who was delivered to perfection by Davy Russell as the six-year-old mare stopped for her closing sectional at 62.0secs on her way to an overall race time just 1.5secs slower than her more illustrious stablemate.
Felix Desjy (141) completed the Cullentra House hurdle winners with a battling display in the handicap hurdle turning around County Hurdle form with Farout (141).
The time figure was respectable and the nine-year-old’s closing sectional of 63.5secs sat between the two higher profile races.
Energumene (168) was simply champion in the opening Grade 1 Champion Chase of the Festival and proved his versatility again with rapid closing sectional off what was just an average gallop, ultimately achieving a time-figure just short of his Cheltenham achievement.
A split-screen comparison with the three-mile Grade 1 novice shows both how Patrick Mullins set a gallop to suit Chacun Pour Soi (163) and how quickly the two-mile field finished of their race.
Joining the races at the path running away from the stands, there was nothing to choose between them through the circuit until the approach to the fourth last when Patrick Mullins set his mount for home.
Paul Townend became more animated after a mistake at the second last fence but in the final reckoning, Energumene readily outpointed by his stable companion and covered the ground from the fourth last fence in 66.0secs, a full 4.4secs faster than Capodanno (147).
Shishkin will need to return better than ever next season if he is to lower the colours of Willie Mullins’ two-mile champion, while the form of the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase is also beginning to stack up.