Singing Banjo completes memorable Punchestown double

Singing Banjo (right) leads them a merry dance
Singing Banjo (right) leads them a merry dance (PA Wire)
19:49pm, Thu 29 Apr 2021
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Philip Rothwell’s Singing Banjo bagged his second win at this year’s Punchestown Festival when coming home clear in a dramatic renewal of the Mongey Communications La Touche Cup Cross Country Chase.

Despite winning the Ladies Perpetual Cup on Tuesday, he was sent off at 33-1 under Barry Walsh, who steered clear of the carnage behind him.

Alpha Des Obeaux was carried out when there appeared to be a difference of opinion over which course to take, an incident which also saw Some Neck badly hampered.

Singing Banjo stayed on stoutly to beat 80-1 chance Michael’s Pick by three and a quarter lengths.

“I’d say Willie (Mullins) will be OK!” said Rothwell, celebrating his third winner of the week.

“It’s unbelievable, but as I said before it’s a family success and it’s all about the Walsh family.

“Aaron, Barry’s brother, owns him and their father John trains him for all the point-to-points, so this is just an honour for me.

“They have banks at home to school their horses and I’ve run them in the banks races for them for a number of years and we absolutely love it. We’ve been second so many times to some of Enda’s (Bolger).

“I always thought that he’d be better over four miles than three and I was questioning whether he should have run in the Ladies Cup the other day, so this is just marvellous.”

Willie Mullins helped JP McManus celebrate his 100th winner at the Punchestown Festival when Capodanno (11-2 favourite) ran out an easy winner of the Conway Piling Handicap Hurdle for Jody McGarvey.

“He was impressive, he’s a fine, big horse and looks a real chaser in the making. I think a bit of nicer ground just made a huge difference to him,” said Mullins.

“He’s one we’ll be looking forward to going over fences with. I think they way he jumped today if he can replicate that over fences there will be a queue of jockeys to ride him.”

Mullins took both Grade One heats on the card with Klassical Dream and Energumene, before Gauloise made it a four-timer for the handler as she proved too strong in the Close Brothers Mares Novice Hurdle.

“She was very good. I was disappointed with her in Cheltenham and I’ve been expecting a performance like that out of her all year,” said Mullins.

“I think I probably wasn’t hard enough on her. I was quite hard on her coming here and it seems to have paid off.

“She’s a tough mare and is probably tougher than a lot of mares. I think she’s going to improve away next season.

“I thought early on in her career she could be top class and now I think she’s back on track again.

“I’m delighted for (owner) Kenny Alexander and she’s another nice mare to add to his portfolio.”

Dysart Dynamo capped the day in fine fashion for the Mullins team as he cantered home under the trainer’s son Patrick in the closing Grant Thornton (C & G) INH Flat Race.

The trainer was winning his 13th race of the week with the evens favourite.

Anthony Honeyball had gone close to a Punchestown Festival winner a couple of times in the past with his stable stalwart Regal Encore, but went one better with Sully D’Oc (6-1) in the Pigsback.com Handicap Chase.

Ridden by rising star of the weighing room Simon Torrens, the seven-year-old was proving his durability having run with credit at both Cheltenham and Aintree.

“He’s always been a lovely horse, but this season has made a man of him as he’s also done Cheltenham and Aintree,” said Honeyball.

“Richie McLernon needs a mention as he’s done a lovely job with him. He ran well at Aintree and I thought coming here might freshen him up as he was on his way to Martinstown anyway.

“I mentioned the cheekpieces to Frank (Berry, racing manager for owner JP McManus) so we put them on – whether they made a difference, I don’t know.

“We’ve hit the bar here a few times with Regal Encore and Cresswell Breeze, so I’m delighted. Watching the way that race was run, I think we could be back in Ireland with him at some stage.”

Jiving Jerry landed a gamble in the opening Specialist Joinery Group Handicap Hurdle for Cathal Landers and trainer James Barcoe.

Having been available at 20-1 overnight, he won by half a length at 11-2.

“That’s brilliant and the horse deserved it as he’s been very consistent all year. He’s an easy horse to train, he turns up,” said Barcoe.

“That’s his third win and it’s for my most important owner, my wife, and it was my niece who led him up, so it’s great.”

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