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McManus fires winning shot

Leading owner JP McManus was off the mark as soon as the Punchestown Festival opened when Shot From The Hip powered away from his rivals in the Evening Herald Champion Novice Hurdle to follow up the success of Outlaw Pete in the banks race.

Far Away So Close put the early pace to the Grade One race but Tony McCoy opted to maintain a watching brief on the Edward O'Grady-trained Shot From The Hip.

Turning for home, McCoy made his move aboard the 11-2 shot and while favourite Hidden Universe tried to keep tabs on him, he had no answer to the winner's burst of acceleration and was nine lengths behind at the line.

McCoy said: "It's always nice to win (a Grade One) at the start of the week. The horse had been a bit disappointing, but he's produced his best run today."

O'Grady added: "We think he's a very good horse, but my horses have been consistently inconsistent this season. It's nice to see him come back and win this. He might go chasing next season. He has the scope for it and jumps and stays well."

Enda Bolger's Outlaw Pete took an eventful Kildare Hunt Club Fr Sean Breen Memorial Chase over the cross-country fences.

The 5-1 shot survived some bad interference when Leg Iron fell early on to stay on strongly and see off dual winner Wedger Pardy by 13 lengths in the hands of JT McNamara.

Bolger's 9-4 favourite Zest For Life departed early on, while Let The Show Begin took the wrong course when in front and prominent pair Theroadtocroker and Not To Pushed failed to negotiate a tight turn before the second-last and missed the fence.

The trainer said: "JT is a wily old fox and let everything happen in front of him. Zest For Life is OK and could run in the La Touche (on Thursday). This fellow is unlikely to run again this week. It was a funny old race but it's good to have two to do the job."

Willie Mullins got an early winner on the board as the Paul Townend-ridden Johnny McGeeney (10-1) prevailed in a tight finish to the '3' Handicap Hurdle, holding the favourite Nearest The Pin by a neck after jumping the last a little slowly.


From Belfast Telegraph