It’s not very often that Henry de Bromhead can call on the services of Patrick Mullins but the pair teamed up at Punchestown on Sunday to win the Qualified Riders Handicap Chase over 2m 6f with Royal Thief.
Running in the colours of Gigginstown House Stud, Royal Thief, who was making his first appearance on the track in 790 days, was sent off a 14/1 chance but was produced by Mullins at the second last fence to challenge Fakiera (5/1).
The pair took the lead at the last fence and stayed on well to win in the end by 10 lengths from Fakiera with Notice To Close a further four and a half lengths behind in third.
“I’m delighted with that. Patrick was brilliant on him,” said Henry de Bromhead.
“He said there was a fresh strip out at the wing and he went that way so fair play to him. It worked really well.
“He hadn’t run for a long time so it’s great and I’m delighted for Gigginstown.
De Bromhead had earlier seen 9/4 joint favourite Journey With Me just touched off by Colm Murphy’s class mare Impervious (3/1) in the Group 3 Madigan Group Novice Chase.
The pair jumped the last fence locked together but Impervious prevailed on the run-in to win by half-a-length.
Willie Mullins and Paul Townend are in flying form and the pair combined to win the first two races. Impaire Et Passe (1/3) got the ball rolling by easily landing the Grade 2 Novice Hurdle by six lengths from The Model Kingdom (4/1) while Tactical Move (7/4) won the first division of the Seamus & Annie Hughes Memorial Maiden Hurdle over 2 miles by five and a half lengths from 66/1 chance Stellium.
Davy Russell didn’t take long to get back to winning ways, booting home his first winner since returning from retirement to ride for Gordon Elliott while Jack Kennedy is sidelined through injury.
Russell and Sa Fureur contested the second division of the Seamus & Annie Hughes Memorial Maiden Hurdle over two miles and was sent off at 3/1.
Russell got after his mount and sent him on from Sunchart approaching the final bend.
The six-year-old gelding kept on well and had plenty in the tank once he cleared the last, going on to win by four and three quarter lengths from stable mate Stuzzikini (40/1) with 5/4 favourite Bialystok two and a half lengths back in third.
“That’s grand, I panicked a little bit and took it up early enough, but to be fair to the horse he stayed at it well,” said Russell.
“Winning is what it’s all about and it’s great to be back in the winners’ enclosure.
“We’re a close team, Gordon knows I’ll be giving him 100 per cent and vice versa. I’m having a good blow now!”
At Fairyhouse on Saturday, Mullins struck for three winners with the first two ridden by stable jockey Paul Townend.
Blood Destiny (8/13), running in the familiar O’Leary family Florida Pearl colours, had in all too easy in the opening 2m hurdle, having all of 18-lengths to spare over 12/1 chance Common Practise.
Flame Bearer (2/5) survived a blunder at the last fence to land the beginners chase over 2m 1f by an even more impressive 38 lengths from Francin (25/1) while the treble was completed when the Closutton handler teamed up with his son Patrick to win the concluding bumper with 4/5 favourite Westport Cove who had three lengths to spare over Faulty at the line.
Joseph O’Brien was among the winners at Dundalk on Friday when he sent out Selador (10/3) to win the 1m 2f maiden by three-quarters of a length from 11/8f Rockview Consort.