Not the first time this week, Willie Mullins dominated the third day of the Punchestown Festival with Klassical Dream and Energumene claiming Grade 1 victories and five winners in total. The former was returning from an absence of 487 days and tackling three miles for the first time in the Champion Stayers Hurdle. Fitted with a hood, the former Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner settled well and was always going strongly under Willie Mullins. Sent clear in the homestraight, the ex-French gelding won hard held by nine lengths. Despite the fact he has already schooled over fences and was due to contest a beginners' chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, the seven year old is expected to remain over timber next term with the Stayers' Hurdle very much on his agenda.
Energumene, who began his career by winning an English point-to-point for Tom Lacey before being sold privately, was forced to miss the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham last month. However, the unbeaten chaser was back to full fitness here and destroyed his three rivals by upwards of sixteen lengths making all under Paul Townend. The Denham Red gelding is a dual Grade 1 winner over fences now and, on this evidence, the seven year old would surely have given Shishkin a race at the Festival in March. Looking ahead, he is another major contender for the top two miles chases for Mullins next winter and beyond. His win here also proved the point that he doesn't need testing ground to show his best.
Ireland's champion trainer was also responsible for the winner of the Grade B three miles handicap hurdle thanks to Capodanno (11/2). Featured in the French Revolution section of One Jump Ahead, the five year old won a maiden hurdle over two miles at Clonmel earlier in the season but has always looked a stayer. Fourth at Fairyhouse last time, he relished the conditions here bolting up by a dozen lengths off a mark of 132. Bought for €185,000 in November 2019, he is by the ill-fated Manduro and is very much a chaser in the making. While the J.P.McManus owned gelding may not prove in the same class as stablemate Galopin Des Champs over fences next term, he should develop into a smart novice nevertheless.
Later on the card, another French Revolution entry Gauloise (7/4) provided the section with another winner when collecting the Listed mares' novice hurdle under a penalty. Runner-up in Grade 1 company at Fairyhouse over Easter, the daughter of Samum was winning her third race of the campaign and her second Listed success. A ten lengths winner, she pulled clear after the last and is yet another high-class mare residing at Closutton.
While the day belonged to W.P.Mullins, the result of the day came in the Grade B two miles handicap chase. Sully D'Oc AA ran a cracker in the Red Rum Chase at Aintree last time and thoroughly deserved his two and a quarter lengths victory under Simon Torrens. Considering the seven year old had lined up at Cheltenham and Aintree beforehand, it was a fantastic effort to win such a competitive event in the space of 42 days and I was delighted for his trainer Anthony Honeyball.
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