GORESBRIDGE trainer Dick Donohoe caused a major upset when saddling Rathvawn Belle to take the bumper at the fine odds of 33-1 at Punchestown on Wednesday, writes Ned Tierney.
Making her racecourse debut the Luso mare raced well off the pace early on but made smooth headway to be in contention turning to face the judge. At this point the odds-on favourite Sizing Brisbane, which had made much of the running, was under strong pressure but Rathvawn Belle was galloping all over her rivals.
Jockey David Mullins waited until approaching the furlong marker before sending Rathvawn Belle to the front. From there the combination pulled clear to win decisively by three and a quarter lengths from another outsider Murtys Delight, with Generous Girl a further four and three-quarter lengths back in third position.
Bumpers like this with restricted conditions are very difficult to assess, but there is no doubt that the winner knew her job well and could turn out to be more than useful. Donohoe is one of the smartest operators in the business when it comes to winning handicaps and it will be interesting to see how he places Rathvawn Belle from here.
The result also marked a special day for the 16-year-old jockey David Mullins, who scored his first win as a amateur rider. It was a brave step giving David Mullins, who had only a handful of rides in public, the mount but the youngster showed the coolness of a veteran. On this evidence, we are going to hear a lot more about him.
David Mullins is the son of Tom, one of the famous Mullins dynasty, but his mother Helen also has horses in her blood. She is the daughter of the late Seamus Hughes, one of the best judges of a young horse. His untimely death left a huge void in the half-bred industry.
There was plenty of chat about the Willie Mullins French-bred newcomer Un De Sceaux in the maiden hurdle. Talk proved to be right on target as the five-year-old did the business with the minimum of fuss.
Starting at a shade of odds-on Un De Sceaux made most of the running and quickened up impressively in the straight to score by six lengths from Sammy Black. There was no less than 25 lengths back to the third-place finisher Never Enough Time, which would suggest that the first pair are respectable.
The winner will now be stepped up in grade for a tilt at some of the good novice events in the coming months.
Aidan O’Brien had his first national hunt runners for almost a decade when he saddled two in the four-year-old bumper but they made no show behind Yes Sir Brian which ran out a stylish 20/1 winner.
Trained near Windgap by Garrett Power - the only horse that the trainer had riding out at present - Yes Sir Brian had the considerable assistance of leading point-to-point rider Derek O’Connor in the saddle and showed a likeable attitude when pressed.
Coming from well off the pace the Brian Boru gelding made eye-catching progress on the run to straight. When a gap opened up on the inside he sailed through to score decisively by a couple of lengths from the well-supported Noel Meade runner Ange Balafre.
In his post-race remarks Power revealed that his original intention was to go for a point-to-point, but a nice piece of work under O’Connor changed his mind with the desired result.
Willie Mullins broke Aidan O’Brien’s record for national hunt winners in a season when Away We Go captured the two mile and four 107-135 handicap hurdle in the hands of Paul Townend at Fairyhouse on Saturday.
This was a remarkable milestone by the trainer. With three months of the jumping year still to go he is likely to achieve a mark that will stand the test of time.
After chasing the leaders Away We Go arrived to challenge the front runner Dazzling Susie after the second last flight. With Townend keeping him up to his work he beat the latter by half a length.
Having scored on his first outing for Mullins back in October Away We Go seemed to have lost his way in the interim. He is equally at home over fences and could have the Irish Grand National as a target.
Glens Melody initiated a double for Mullins and Townend with a comfortable success in the two mils and a half novice hurdle for fillies.
A high class bumper mare, the daughter of King’s Theatre has shown improvement in all her outings over hurdles thus far and is likely to make her mark in mares races. She went to post a heavily-backed favourite and never gave her supporters the slightest cause for concern as she hit the front after the penultimate flight on her way to beating Byerley Babe by two and a quarter lengths.