Ladbrokes Punchestown Gold Cup (Grade 1)
A FRONT-running masterclass that befits one of the very finest jumpers currently in training was in the offing in this end of season spectacular as Allaho galloped his rivals into the ground with one of his trademark displays of overwhelming class and power.
Over the last couple of seasons Allaho has been brilliant at the intermediate trip of two and a half miles which has yielded back-to-back Ryanair Chase triumphs. His two previous outings at three miles over fences had resulted in defeat which meant that the Cheveley Park Stud-owned 6/5 favourite lined up with questions to answer over this trip.
However, there can be little doubt about Allaho’s standing as a three-mile chaser of rare quality as he dismantled a quality field in trademark fashion. What this performance means for Allaho’s future plans remains to be seen but this display has opened up a whole new avenue of options for this stellar talent who just seems to be getting better and better as the seasons go by.
Any suggestion that the step up to this distance could result in a chance of tactics was immediately dispelled as Paul Townend set out his stall by going straight to the front and setting a gallop that made this quite a test for all eight of his rivals. The stiffest resistance came from last year’s winner Clan Des Obeaux who looked very lethargic early on but quickly got into his stride to keep Allaho company.
The British raider could never really pressure the winner though and in behind potential dangers disappeared one by one over the last mile and a half. The son of No Risk At All turned for home with a good lead and it was just a matter of safely negotiating the last two fences. Allaho duly cleared the last two obstacles and kept up an unrelenting gallop to eventually reach the line some 14 lengths ahead of Clan Des Obeaux. There was a further length and a half back to Al Boum Photo with Kemboy taking fourth.
“Paul didn’t take any prisoners. He told me he was going to jump out and go down to the first and see who would be with him over the first two and ride a race from there. As it turned out Clan Des Obeaux was the only one to stay with him,” said a delighted Mullins.
“Bryan Cooper (rider of Al Boum Photo) said he had never ridden in as fast a Gold Cup in his life and Allaho just took good horses out of their comfort zone. He’s a lot more mature and able to stay since he last tried this trip.
“I’ll have a word with the Thompsons about where we might go next season. This opens up a lot of options going forward and looking at what he did there today you could say he would go for a King George if we wanted to do that. The fact he is now doing this over three miles is good and he is only going to turn nine next season so it’s all looking good and he will be more mature again next season.”
As he reflected on his latest Grade 1 triumph Paul Townend added: “Harry (Cobden) kept me honest up front. My horse went a bit to his left and didn’t jump as well as he can but he’s just a monster.
“Fair play to Willie for rolling the dice at this trip but he’s an older and stronger horse and he stayed at it well and he can take horses out of their comfort zone. Any winner here with the crowd back is brilliant and it’s even better when you are riding for Willie Mullins.”