Grand day for Henderson team
Published 07/05/2011 | 18:52
Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty took the honours on the final day of the Punchestown Festival with a 235-1 treble highlighted by Grandouet's success in the AES Champion 4YO Hurdle.
The gelding had been well fancied for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March but faded into third, while he was still going well when brought down close home at Aintree.
This time Geraghty always looked confident and let the 5-2 chance sprint clear approaching the last to beat Kumbeshwar by nine lengths, while favourite Unaccompanied never travelled with her usual zest and could finish only fourth.
Henderson said: "He deserved that for his consistency, honesty and above all his jumping. We always thought Aintree was more his track than Cheltenham, but he was brought down there.
"It can be tough for a four-year-old to run in three festivals, but he always looked like he would win today. We have all summer to think of plans, but Barry suggests going chasing. There's a thing called Hurricane Fly to worry about if we stay hurdling."
Bellvano (7-2 favourite) had earlier bounced back to winning ways in the Madra Irish Dog Food Novice Chase, resisting a stiff challenge from Montan over the last two fences to prevailed by a length and three-quarters.
"He is still a novice for next season in England and still has a fair bit to learn. We will go quietly with him and not go for anything fancy yet. He is a top-of-the-ground horse and Barry said that ground was as slow as he would need it," said Henderson.
Shakalakaboomboom (14-1) was a thrilling winner of the Tulfarris Hotel And Golf Resort Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase to complete the treble.
Having taken up the running some way out, he looked a sitting duck for the favourite Beautiful Sound in the straight, but despite a monumental error at the last, Geraghty galvanised his mount to win by the shortest of short heads.
The trainer, who also won the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock with Eradicate, said: "It's terrific to round off the season like this. It was a terrifically brave effort having come back from eating grass at the last. He'll be out in the grass next week!"