Ulster's Killultagh Vic on top as Hurricane Fly bids for glory
The Boyd family from Crossgar had a great day ahead of Hurricane Fly's bid for glory in the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle.
Killultagh Vic - owned by a syndicate headed by Rose Boyd - won the Grade One Novice Hurdle on day two of the Punchestown Festival.
And Hurricane Fly - owned by Mrs Boyd and Belfast's George Creighton - will take on old foe Jezki in this evening's £200,000 feature.
Hurricane Fly and Down Royal Festival hero Jezki cross swords for a ninth time when they tackle three miles.
Between them the former champion hurdlers have won a remarkable 29 Grade Ones, but neither has gone beyond two-and-a-half miles before.
As a three-parts brother to last year's winner and fellow Jessica Harrington-trained rival Jetson, Jezki is bred to stay, and he comes here on a high after getting off the mark for the campaign in the Aintree Hurdle.
Hurricane Fly was carried out on his shield when beaten for a first time this term in the Champion Hurdle.
He has run 40 times and won a record 22 Grade Ones, but this is new territory for the redoubtable 11-year-old.
Dare we say it, we might not see too much more of Willie Mullins' fractious star, so we'll enjoy the old warrior while we can.
Killultagh Vic repelled the late thrust of Thistlecrack to claim the Novice Hurdle for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend.
Winner of the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Hurdle at Cheltenham, Killultagh Vic was one of three runners in this three-mile Grade One for the champion trainer. Stable jockey Ruby Walsh elected to ride Shaneshill, who was sent off the 11-8 favourite having finished second behind esteemed stable companion Douvan in the Supreme Novices Hurdle before winning at Fairyhouse.
But while Shaneshill began to weaken, Thistlecrack came with a run and was just half a length down on Killultagh Vic at the line.
Mullins said: "Killultagh Vic looks like a chaser but I'll have to have a chat with the owners, who may consider keeping him over hurdles for the World Hurdle.
"I don't know if Shaneshill didn't stay or he's just feeling the effects of a couple of runs.
"We'll have to see if any excuse comes to light to explain why he appeared to stop. Hopefully we can get to the bottom of why that happened.
"It's great to have such depth, both with our horses and also with our riders. Paul gave the winner a great ride."
Don Cossack capped a memorable campaign for Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown House Stud with a brilliant display under Paul Carberry in the Bibby Financial Services Ireland Punchestown Gold Cup.
Djakadam beat Down Royal Festival JNwine.com Champion Chase winner Road To Riches to the runner-up spot.
Carberry said: "He jumped well the whole way. Any time I asked him, he answered.
"He showed he'll be a (Cheltenham) Gold Cup contender next year."