Allure caught in dead-heat drama
Long odds-on favourite Allure Of Illusion could only dead-heat with King Vuvuzela in a thrilling finish to the Eadestown GAA & Parish Fair Maiden Hurdle at Punchestown.
Ruby Walsh set out to make most of the running on Willie Mullins' 1-5 chance, and everything looked to be going according to plan turning into the straight. The former smart bumper performer, an unlucky loser on his hurdling debut, jumped a bit sketchily over the final two flights, but still looked in control.
However, Robbie Power got a great tune out of the Paul Nolan-trained King Vuvuzela (13-2), who fought his way into the picture and could not be separated from Allure Of Illusion at the line.
Power said: "We'd have settled for that beforehand. He's a very nice horse and won a very good bumper here at the Festival. He'd had a couple of disappointing races this season, but Paul said he didn't think he was right, but he'd been showing him the right signs since.
"Just going to the second-last I wasn't convinced Ruby's horse would stay two and a half miles and I saw him start to niggle. I was unlucky not to get there on my own, but pleased to get a share of it. He'll stay three miles."
Matters improved for Mullins when Scotsirish (4-9 favourite) survived a mistake at the last to win the Glenfarclas PP Hogan Memorial Chase over the banks course under his son Patrick, with veteran Garde Champetre two lengths away in second.
Cootamundra (14-1) sealed the deal in the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle with a big leap at the last.
John Berry's nine-year-old looked like he had just joined in at the second-last as he was travelling so well. Robbie Moran booted his partner into the last flight and went five lengths clear with an extravagant jump. He did, however, idle in front, which allowed Really Unique to close to within three-quarters of a length.
Moran, without a win since last April, said: "Things worked out for Cootamundra - he got the gaps. People have been knocking him, saying he doesn't find a lot, but he just has a great cruising pace, travels terrifically well and keeps going."