ALLAHO added the accolade of the leading performance on the clock at the Punchestown Festival to the same achievement at Cheltenham in March as he replicated his dominant front-running style over three miles to win the Grade 1 Punchestown Gold Cup.

The dual Ryanair Chase winner made every yard of the running as he took an established group of staying chasers out of their comfort zone from early on the final circuit.

A split-screen comparison with the only other chase on the card revealed Allaho’s advantage to be upwards of 25 lengths over Royal Rendezvous at the end of the back straight which would have seen the entire Gold Cup field through that section before the handicap chase.


In trademark fashion, Allaho (170) kept galloping all the way to the line and although his closing sectional of 71.8secs was eclipsed by Royal Rendezvous who stopped the clock at 68.2secs for the same distance of ground, it is highly unlikely his stable companion would have produced such an effort if asked to race at such an exacting tempo early in his contest.

Clan Des Obeaux (160) had Harry Cobden at work early in the race although once in a rhythm, the 10-year-old ran a season best time figure.

Kemboy (158) may well have edged Al Boum Photo (158) for third had he not made a significant mistake at the second last fence.

Interestingly, Fakir D’Oudairies (151) was beaten a similar distance as last year and posted the same time figure, I have no doubt Joseph O’Brien’s gelding stays three miles, he is simply better over two and a half miles.

Confident Rendezvous

Royal Rendezvous (151) was making amends for being left at the start when badly hampered in the same race last year and was given a supremely confident ride by Paul Townend.

The champion jockey allowed his nearest challengers to pass him on the home turn, before sweeping to the front down the stands’ side to win going away by a length and three quarters.

The son of King’s Theatre looks primed for another tilt at the Galway Plate, a race which he won last year and finished second in the previous year.

Discordantly (149) will likely head to the same contest and will again be a worthy adversary. Jessica Harrington’s gelding has registered his two best performances of the season over trips short of three miles and has previously won over the Plate course and distance.

Snugsborough Benny (142) ran his best race for some time and would be of interest if appearing at Galway, albeit in one of the lesser contests over the extended two mile and six furlongs such as the Galway Blazers Handicap.

Facile best

Facile Vega (141) signed off his season with his best time figure to date as his stable companion Redemption Day (140) made him pull out all the stops to win by a length and three quarters.

The feature of the victory was the final circuit time - eight seconds, or roughly an astounding 40 lengths, faster than all the hurdle races on the card which, even when adjusted for not jumping the hurdles, is still superior to Grade 1 winner The Nice Guy who had the luxury of quickening off a slow early pace.

It is hard to say American Mike (126) underperformed as he was still 22 lengths clear of the fourth horse although he has yet to scale the heights of his debut at Down Royal.

Nice versality

The Nice Guy (125+) displayed his versatility in the Grade 1 novice for stayers as he showed he possesses a turn of foot to match his stamina as he once again mastered stablemate Minella Cocooner (125+).

The feature of his victory on Wednesday was his closing sectional of 63.1secs, which was the equal of Ambitious Fellow (120) and faster than both Life In The Park (124) (65.1secs) and Crosshill (120+) (64.4secs) all of whom raced over a shorter distance.

Willie Mullins may decide to send both his staying novices chasing next season, however, should he decide to keep The Nice Guy over hurdles I would suggest he has all the attributes to take the staying division by storm.

A Dream fast-finishing sectional

KLASSICAL Dream (118+) won a second successive Grade 1 Champion Stayers’ Hurdle even though he did not need to run nearly as fast as last year.

On this occasion, victory came courtesy of a fast-finishing sectional off a slow pace as the overall race time was slower than the three-mile handicap won by A Great View (128) and the opening race landed by Broomfield Hall (130) when adjusted for distance.

As was the case all week, Paul Townend delivered his mount to perfection as the well-supported favourite headed Gentlemansgame (113+) on the approach to the last hurdle on his way to stopping the clock at 57.7secs from the third last hurdle.

In comparison, Broomfield Hall posted 58.5secs and A Great View 61.5secs, suggesting the pace collapsed somewhat in the three-mile handicap.

Ashdale Bob (116+) was the final challenger to Klassical Dream as his speed for shorter distances came into play and, although I would still need convincing of his credentials as an out-and-out stayer, the son of Shantou is still on the upgrade with his Coral Cup third reading well following the exploits of others from that race last week at Punchestown.

Tenacious Broomfield

Broomfield Hall was tenacious in the finish of the opening handicap hurdle on the Thursday and posted the fastest time figure when adjusted for distance on the day.

The game looked up for Philip Dempsey’s mare when Gin Coco (129) loomed up with his challenge so posting a closing sectional on a par with Klassical Dream was essential in the finish and made making ground from the rear nigh on impossible for the grade.

The closers worthy of an upgrade were Golf Marin (124) and Hisnameis Mrdevitt (124) who were similarly placed at the third last hurdle before covering the ground to the winning line in 58.7secs.

Golf Marin ran a similar race at Fairyhouse so it remains to be seen whether he can produce the same finishing effort when ridden more forward and Hisnameis Mrdevitt was taking a huge step forward from Ballinrobe.

Peter Fahey’s five-year-old is very lightly raced over hurdle.

The eyecatcher in the three-mile handicap hurdle was Maze Runner (124+) who finished off his race to the same effect as the winner despite a troubled passage.

As the seven-year-old has mixed flat and jumps in previous years he may be a Willie Mullins runner to note on the level in future.

Lord’s speedy finish

BLUE Lord (153) had to produce the fastest finishing effort of the day to secure the Grade 1 Barberstown Castle Novice Chase and deny the strong-travelling Coeur Sublime (153) who looked set to prevail after tracking Saint Sam.

Paul Townend was at his strongest to force Willie Mullins’ gelding to the front on the line as he closed off his race from the fourth last in 64.8secs which, although just 0.3secs faster than Magic Daze, formed part of a final circuit which was 3.7secs quicker than the Robcour-owned mare.

My visual impression of Coeur Sublime was that he was looking for company after he was left in front as a result of the mistake by Saint Sam at the second last, especially as he rallied again once headed.

Magic Daze (147) took full advantage of the drop in grade to win the two-mile handicap chase which produced a similar time-figure to the Grade 1, although was more evenly run. It paid to be handy as the first four home pretty much occupied the position throughout with the most notable performance in my opinion recorded by Sil Ver Klass (141) who ran way beyond his 117 rating.