Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Durkan stroll for Arvika

Arvika Ligeonniere and Ruby Walsh came home by nine lengths

Arvika Ligeonniere enjoyed a facile success for the Willie Mullins team after stablemate Sir Des Champs made an early exit in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase at the County Kildare track.

The field had been reduced to three when last year's winner Flemenstar was taken out on Saturday and there was drama as early as the third fence where Sir Des Champs fell.

That left Arvika Ligeonniere to lead the only other runner Rubi Light for the rest of the two and a half mile Grade One.

The 4-7 favourite never looked in any danger with Ruby Walsh enjoying an armchair ride. Rubi Light was held when ploughing through the final fence and was eventually beaten by nine lengths.

Walsh said: "The fences are there to be jumped, but it's very unlike Sir Des Champs to make a mistake like that, but that's racing I suppose.

"My fella jumped well bar the first down the back.

"He's got lots of pace and great scope for jumping. If he was mine I'd be inclined to go back in trip. Why hold him back in a longer race and not play to your strengths. but it's up to Willie and connections what they want to do."

Following his heavy fall from Sir Des Champs Davy Russell was stood down for the rest of the afternoon.

Mullins' son and assistant, Patrick, said: "Sir Des Champs seems fine. He walked away, it was just one of those things.

"At least it's a long way from March and hopefully he'll be OK in the morning. All being well he'll go for the Lexus at Leopardstown.

Of the winner, he said: "He's probably better going right-handed, but he has won a Grade One around Leopardstown and he could drop back in trip."

Arvika Ligeonniere's owner Rich Ricci told At The Races: "He jumped really well, he has really come on from his novice season.

"It's a shame was happened to Sir Des Champs but he's up and around which is good and it's a pity Flemenstar wasn't here for Punchestown.

"Our lad was good today and I'm not sure if anything would have beaten him.

"When he attacks his fences he is beautiful to watch. It's a lovely thing to see.

"I'm not sure what we will do now, but he seems a different horse this season to me.

"We talked about dropping him back in trip just after the race. There's the Dial-A-Bet Chase (Leopardstown, December 27) and a two-five race at Ascot (Betfair Ascot Chase, February 15) coming up. I'd be happy to drop him back (in trip).

"He's more exciting to watch over the shorter distances."

Russell missed the winning ride on Bright New Dawn in the Setanta Sports 1Euro Offer Beginners Chase.

Bryan Cooper made the most of the opportunity on the Dessie Hughes's-trained six-year-old, who making his debut over bigger obstacles.

Bright New Dawn made all the running but the 5-4 favourite had to fight off the Mullins representative Dogora.

The four-year-old, receiving 12lb, put in a strong bid after the last but Bright New Dawn was always just holding him on the dash to the line as he prevailed by half a length.

Cooper told At The Races: "We've always held him in high regard and chasing was always going to be his game.

"He had to work hard for it, but I would have been happier if Ruby (on Dogora) had come to me going to the last. I could have done with a bit of company. He was idling, but got the job done.

"My lad in a proper true-run race is when you will see the best of him. It was his first run of the season. He was only a length and three-quarters behind Champagne Fever on hurdles form and on that evidence he has held his ability so we can go down that route."

Cooper and Hughes were completing a double, having struck with Apache Jack (5-4 favourite) in the 2014 Annual Membership Maiden Hurdle and looked set to claim a treble with Canaly in the Weatherbys Ireland GSB Handicap Chase but he was caught on the line by Walsh on Daring Article (5-2 favourite).

Hughes said: "He always looked like he'd make a chaser but it's nice to see it happen. He's in the three-mile Grade One (Topaz Novice Chase) at Christmas, and more than likely that's where he'll go.

"Hopefully he'll go on from that and it was a good first run over fences. The second horse had already run and we were giving him 12lb. He jumped well."

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