Punchestown Festival: Echoes In Rain leads them a merry dance in the Punchestown Novice Hurdle

Echoes In Rain beat the boys with an impressive display in the eCOMM Merchant Solutions Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown on the opening day.

With the track looking in tremendous condition, a credit to the whole team, the Event got off to flyer. Oh how we wish this Pandemic would end soon. We feel as if there is so much we are missing out on. But as they say…there is light at the end of the tunnel. Trainer Willie Mullins had saddled seven previous winners of the Grade One Champion Novice Hurdle, with Hurricane Fly (2009), Faugheen (2014) and Douvan (2015) among those on the roll of honour.

Punchestown 4.15 – Champion Novice Hurdle
Echoes in Rain 8/13f
Colonel Mustard 40/1
Blue Lord 15/8

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This year Mullins had two entries with dual Grade Two winner Echoes In Rain the 8-13 favourite ridden by his son Patrick, and Blue Lord the second favourite ridden by Paul Townend.

Bidding to bounce back from a final-flight fall when seemingly booked for second behind stablemate Appreciate It in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, Blue Lord set out to make all the running, with Echoes In Rain always in his slipstream.

Coming toward the last fence, the race looked all over, minus the shouting… and the favourite smoothly took charge to scoot clear by three lengths on the run-in.

Colonel Mustard (40-1) finished with a flourish to beat Blue Lord to the runner-up spot late on and deny Mullins a one-two.

Mullins said: “It’s a great start to the week for Patrick and for Echoes In Rain’s connections.

“She is a filly that’s improving as she learns about racing. She just made one mistake, and Patrick blamed himself because he didn’t want her to jump it as well as she was setting herself up to jump it because she was going to land there too soon, so he let her fiddle it.

“She’s a filly who has now won at the top level, and hopefully that’s where she’ll stay for the next couple of years.

“She could run on the Flat, but it’s taken us two years to settle her down, so I doubt I’m going to do that.

“I’d say we’ll probably stick to this jumping game. She’s learning how to pace herself jumping now, and you’d have to be happy with that.”

Asked whether he felt Echoes In Rain could develop into a Champion Hurdle contender, he added: “She’s improving every day and with every run and looks like she’s setting herself up to get a chance at it.

The champion trainer soon doubled up, with the Conor McNamara-ridden Jazzaway coming out on top in a thrilling finish to the 50,000 euro Killashee Hotel Handicap Hurdle.

The 10-1 shot looked likely to be caught by the fast-finishing Call Me Lyreen as the post loomed, but clung on by a short head.

Mullins said: “I’ve lost a bottle of champagne to Richie Galway (racecourse manager) because he said we’d held on and I said we hadn’t. He said ‘I bet you a bottle of Bollinger’ and I said ‘fair enough’!

“It’s great for Conor, claiming his 3lb, to get a victory like that – and great for the owners.

Punchestown 5.55 result

1 Adamantly Chosen 5/1
2 Springwell Bay 10/1
3 Carnfunnock 28/1
4 Merlin Giant 4/1

After the brilliant Chacun Pour Soi made it three winners on the card for the Mullins team in the William Hill Champion Chase, Adamantly Chosen brought up the yard’s four-timer with a debut victory in the Goffs Land Rover Bumper.

Jody Townend – sister of champion jockey Paul Townend – rode the 5-1 shot to get the better of Springwell Bay by three-quarters of a length in the dying strides of the race where it looked like Derek O’Connor’s mount was going the better of the two as they drew well clear of the third.

Mullins said: “Jody was very good on the horse. He was one of the bargain purchases of the sales (cost €24,000), which just shows you don’t have to have huge money to get the winner.

“The whole family like winning around here – we sourced Adamant Approach after seeing him in a schooling bumper here. I think a half-brother to this horse might have won around here, too.”

In the afternoon’s final Group 1 race, Colreevy ended her racing career in a blaze of glory after upsetting big guns Monkfish and Envoi Allen with a superb front-running victory in the Dooley Insurance Group Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown.

Shock win for Colreevy in the Novice Hurdle as just two of the four finished the race
Punchestown 6.30 result

1 Colreevy 7/1
2 Monkfish 10/11 Fav

A clash between the Willie Mullins-trained Monkfish and Henry de Bromhead’s Envoi Allen was billed as one of the races of the season, with Monkfish protecting an unbeaten record over fences and Envoi Allen bidding to bounce back from his early fall at Cheltenham.

However, Monkfish’s stablemate Colreevy – winner of the inaugural Mares’ Chase in the Cotswolds last month – had other ideas under a well-judged ride from the trainer’s nephew, Danny Mullins.

Trainer Philip Rothwell bagged his second winner of the day in the penultimate race, the Kildare Hunt Club Ladies Cup, with Singing Banjo winning with Barry Walsh aboard.

In the final race of the day, the Irish Field INH Flat Race, victory went to Crowns Major, trained by Emmett Mullins and ridden by Pat Byrnes.

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