Four Grade 1 races formed a top class days racing at Leopardstown on Sunday and over 10,000 people came to see trainer Willie Mullins land his eighth Hennessey Gold Cup courtesy of Quel Esprit. Ruby Walsh kept things simple on the grey making all the running and staying on too strongly for Roberto Goldback with outsider Treacle running a cracker in third. Willie Mullins, who has trained more than twice as many winners as any other jumps trainer in Ireland this year commented; “Ruby gave him a very brave ride. He got him jumping and galloping and the horse threw in a few fabulous leaps when he needed to. We always thought he was a fantastic jumper at home and we were surprised when he fell a couple of times last year. The likelihood is that we'll have a crack at the Gold Cup.”
Quel Esprit is owned by the Red Barn Syndicate and is another top graduate of Irish point to points. He won a 4yo Maiden at Dundrum for Andy Slattery who also supplied Cooldine to the Mullins stable. It was a fantastic day overall for Irish point to point graduates as they won three of the four Grade 1 races. Benefficient (IRE) got the ball rolling when springing a 50/1 surprise in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle. The win sparked riotous scenes in the parade ring after as owner Aidan Shiels celebrated with a whole softball team that he had flown in from New York for the weekend. Shiels owns the Irish Rover Bar in New York and was planning to celebrate in style with co-owner Niall Reilly. Benefficient is trained by Tony Martin and was given a fine ride by Bryan Cooper who was landing his first Grade 1 success. Despite being pulled up last time out Martin always had faith in the son of Beneficial saying; “He’s a proper horse and when Ruby rode him to win his maiden at Navan he really liked him. I’m so happy for the lads Aidan and Niall who came over from New York to see him run. It’s a dream come through for them. He’s in everything at Cheltenham so I’d say he’ll go for something there.” Benefficient was bred by Peter Tomany and he won a 5yo Maiden at Bandon when in the care of Debbie Hartnett. Hartnett then brought him to Tattersalls Ireland’s Point To Point & HIT Sale last May where he was bought by Tony Martin for €52,000, which is also the exact winner’s prize-money from Sundays race. Having already proved he jumps fences and stays three miles Benefficient must have a great future as a staying chaser. It was a great weekend for Tony Martin after his other stable-star Bog Warrior got back on the winning trail at Naas on Saturday with an effortless success in the BBA Ireland Opera Hat Novice Chase.