Patrick Mullins celebrates on Facile Vega after winning the Race & Stay At Punchestown Champion INH Flat Race during day two of the Punchestown Festival. Pic: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Facile Vega provided Willie Mullins with a third Grade 1 on Day 2 of the Punchestown Festival, the champion trainer finishing with a four-timer to bring his tally for the meeting to date to seven.
Ridden by Patrick Mullins, Facile Vega completed the Cheltenham/Punchestown double with a gutsy defeat of stablemate Redemption Day, ridden by Jody Townend, in the Race & Stay At Punchestown Champion INH Flat Race.
“He was quite worked up in the parade ring and down at the start, which wouldn’t be like him, so I think the season was probably starting to get to him a bit,” revealed Mullins Jnr.
“But I said it all before Cheltenham, there wasn’t much between this fella and Redemption Day on homework and I don’t think people would believe me but that was the case today. Redemption Day is a very good horse as well.
“Turning out the back straight, I’m thinking to myself, ‘You’re a bit flat,’ and I wanted to hold onto him as long as I could. And I’d love if I’d had the balls to let Jody go past me. I didn’t even want to get involved as early as we did.
“I was happy I’d beat American Mike for gears but I thought Redemption Day might be a little bit quicker than me. But he was flat today and he still won.
“Jody is riding out of her skin at the moment and I often feel like Wile E Coyote trying to catch her… About 10 yards before we walked into the tapes, I could feel Jody was there. I knew she was there all the way. But this fella, he got headed and he battled back. So he’s the full package.
“(Owners) The Hammer & Trowel Syndicate made a €5,000 donation to the Irish Injured Jockeys fund, so they deserve this because that was a very gracious gesture and we’re very appreciative of it.”
Royal Rendezvous would provide Team Closutton with a fourth success when staying on strongly to bag the €100,000 OMC Claims Handicap Chase, giving Paul Townend a treble in the process, after the earlier Grade 1 triumphs of Allaho and The Nice Guy.
Attendance for the day was 19,934, up 1,047 on 2019.
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