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It's just William in Ryanair

Tom Cooper's Lucky William held off Blackstairmountain in a thrilling finish to the Ryanair Novice Chase at Punchestown.

The eight-year-old was taking a big jump in class after winning a novice handicap chase at Fairyhouse a little over a fortnight ago, but travelled powerfully towards the front end under Barry Geraghty.

Favourite First Lieutenant was in trouble before the home turn, while Menorah went well for a long way before weakening, and Blackstairmountain was the only one able to go with Lucky William down the home straight. The 4-1 winner kept finding to take the Grade One prize by a length and a half.

Cooper said: "Brilliant, absolutely super. Out of all the runners I thought he was the one who would handle the ground the best, and he proved it on the day.

"His win at Fairyhouse the last day gave him confidence. It was a mighty performance under top weight on soft ground. He was giving two and a half stone to horses that looked well handicapped.

"He has done little since, just ticking over and swimming. He's probably a better horse on better ground, but he's versatile. It's very tricky now lads. He's not a Sprinter Sacre and we'll try and avoid him. There should be plenty of other races for him."

Richard Johnson said of Menorah, who passed the post fourth: "The ground was against us and it was a bit too soft. Saying that he was a bit awkward at the first few fences and they are big fences here, but he jumped well towards the end.

"He's run a decent race and it's the end of a long season so he's one to look forward to next year."

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