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Owners' prize for Gigginstown

Gigginstown House Stud claimed the champion owners' prize in Ireland for only the second time following the conclusion of the Punchestown Festival.

The outfit's first and only previous victory in the title race came in 2010, which was the one year out of the last 17 that JP McManus did not win.

Led by Ryanair supremo Michael O'Leary, Gigginstown has enjoyed another fine campaign on home soil, with the undoubted star of the team the Willie Mullins-trained Sir Des Champs.

The seven-year-old gave Gigginstown a major triumph in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February, while he was also placed in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase, was fourth in the Lexus and filled the runner-up spot in the Cheltenham Gold Cup behind Bobs Worth.

And he arguably saved the best until last with a thrilling success from Long Run in the Bet Online With Punchestown Gold Cup.

In what was a slightly frustrating week at Cheltenham, Gigginstown failed to hit the bullseye, but Sir Des Champs was one of the four horses to finish second - the others being First Lieutenant, Rule The World and Tofino Bay. First Lieutenant did go on to strike Grade One gold at Aintree's Grand National meeting, however.

It was the runners domestically that sealed the title, with Gordon Elliott's Roi Du Mee doing more than his fair share in winning six races, picking up over 100,000 euros in prize-money, and Sir Des Champs in the Punchestown feature adding a further 90,000 euros. Tofino Bay, Bog Warrior and Un Atout were among the others to do well.

Eddie O'Leary, Michael's brother and Gigginstown's racing manager, said: "It's an honour to win it. JP is a very hard man to beat and it's been a very good competition.

"We've had a great season. Sir Des Champs winning the two Grade Ones, the novice hurdlers were a good bunch and First Lieutenant has been a fantastic horse - he's so honest and sound. There have been plenty of highlights. We didn't have a winner at Cheltenham, but it was a good week, we just couldn't break the crossbar.

"At the start of the season out aim is to win Graded races, not handicaps. If that puts us in with a chance of being champion owners, then great, but our main aim is to win the big races."


From Belfast Telegraph