2018 PUNCHESTOWN FESTIVAL: DAY 1
25 April 2018
The Grade 1 Champion Novice Chase was undoubtedly the
talking point after Day 1 of the Punchestown Festival, as the extraordinary
closing stages saw THE STORYTELLER (IRE) crowned the winner. Approaching the
last, victory looked likely for either Al Boum Photo or Finian’s Oscar (IRE),
until the former veered towards the wing, bringing the latter with him. Davy
Russell was left in the lead aboard THE STORYTELLER (IRE) and raced home
strongly to win by six lengths, chased home by two of his Gordon Elliott
Mrs Pat Sloan, a loyal supporter of Irish racing, was the
winning owner and had her six-time winner purchased by Kevin Ross Bloodstock
for €67,000 at the Goffs Land Rover Sale. Bred by Rowena Cotton and Stephen
Lannigan O’Keeffe, THE STORYTELLER (IRE) is another successful product of
sending a Bob Back mare to Burgage Stud sire Shantou, other examples being
Briar Hill (IRE) and Shantou Flyer (IRE).
The previous race saw COMMANDER OF FLEET (IRE) bag €59,000
for connections when demolishing his rivals in the Goffs Land Rover Bumper. The
sole finisher of his only point-to-point start for Pat Doyle, his potential was
perhaps mysterious, but fully confirmed by his eight and a half length victory.
He was part of a double on the card for his late sire, Fame And Glory of Grange
Stud, with Kalum River (IRE) winning the other bumper of the day.
Mags O’Toole purchased the winner on behalf of Gigginstown
House Stud for €47,000 at the Goffs Land Rover Sale, with Mount Eaten Stud having
bought him as a foal from Egmont Stud at the Tattersalls Ireland November NH
Sale. Bred by Patricia Coghlan, COMMANDER OF FLEET (IRE) is the second foal out
of bumper winner Coonagh Cross (IRE), herself a half-sister to Grade 3 winner
Sunset Lodge (IRE) and Grade 2 performer Atum Rae (IRE). Coghlan bred the trio
out of a full-sister to Listed chase victor Renagown, from the family of Grade
1 winners Death Duty (IRE), Foxrock (IRE) and One Knight (IRE).
TRUE SELF (IRE) advertised the fine chances that the mares
allowance offers’ when impressing in the Grade B Killashee Handicap Hurdle on
the opening day of the Punchestown Festival. Last year’s leading conditional
rider, Rachel Blackmore, also advertised her abilities when taking the lead
before the final flight and drove her mount out to score by two and a half
lengths. Victory in the €60,000 contest was also important for the winning
trainer, Willie Mullins, who is aiming to pull back Gordon Elliott’s lead
before the champion trainer title is decided at the end of the week.
The winning daughter of Oscar (IRE) was bred by Don
Cantillon and is a granddaughter of Listed performer Only Great, from the
family of Pretty Polly Stakes third Ceili Mor and dual Group 2 winner Commanche