Punchestown Featival: Taoiseach will attend final day
Published 07/05/2011 | 00:00
The 2010/2011 jumps season draws to a conclusion at Punchestown this evening, when the Taoiseach Enda Kenny will be on hand to present the titles.
Great spirit: Jockey Richard Johnson celebrates with trainer Tim Vaughan after Spirit of Adjisa’s victory last nightBY RICHARD FORRISTAL
As the curtain comes down on the Co Kildare Festival with another busy rather than spectacular card, only the jockeys' title remains up for decision.
To suggest even that much, though, requires generous use of the imagination.
Although he hasn't ridden since breaking his collarbone on Tuesday, Paul Townend is five to the good over Davy Russell.
Russell has six remaining chances of eating into the deficit, but the plain-speaking Youghal native would be the first to tell you that the 20-year-old Townend is certain to be crowned champion for the first time in his career.
Despite another brilliant season, Russell's main employer Gigginstown House Stud will also concede the owners' award.
Michael O'Leary's operation wrested the title off JP McManus 12 months ago, and it is to the Limerick man that it will now return for a 15th time.
Willie Mullins, who hasn't enjoyed quite the same domestic dominance this term as last, will pick up his fifth trainers' gong at the end of a campaign that also yielded a first leading handlers’ prize at the Cheltenham Festival.
His son Patrick is guaranteed a fourth amateur riders' title, while Bryan Cooper — son of Tralee trainer Tom — has so far amassed a record haul of 37 that will earn him the conditional jockeys' equivalent.
As for the day's racing, the AES Champion Four-Year-Old Hurdle is the stand-out event, with Dermot Weld's Unaccompanied set to tackle top British prospects Grandouet and Kumbeshwar in what should be a cracking Grade One finale.
Unaccompanied is the horse to beat on the basis of her fine second to Zarkandar in the Triumph Hurdle.
Kumbeshwar, second to that one at Aintree, continues to improve, though Unaccompanied's main threat in this outing may be Nicky Henderson's Grandouet.
Possibly not suited by the hill when third in the Triumph, that one was running a big race when brought down two-out at Aintree.
Unaccompanied is impossible to pass up on this occasion.
Bog Warrior must have a chance in his first handicap, the www.thetote.com Handicap Hurdle. A bumper and hurdle winner in two completed starts, he gets in off a low weight here.
Willie Mullins has six hopefuls, while Silverhand is Noel Meade's sole contender.
Benburb trainer Jim Lambe has a chance with Hunting Tower.