Trainer Gordon Elliott had a remarkable day at Punchestown, landing six of the eight races, as he continues to show he is one of the best in the business. Having gone down all guns blazing to Willie Mullins in last season’s thrilling battle to be Champion Trainer, all signs lead to another exciting battle over this campaign. We take a look at the standout performers.
Perhaps the most impressive performance of the day came from SAMCRO, unbeaten in three bumpers last season and a horse that is clearly very well regarded. Sent off at 1/5, he was clearly expected to win comfortably, and he did just that with a facile 15-length victory in the 2m maiden hurdle. While not short of speed, he certainly looks like the type that would relish further, and so it’s no surprise to see him a clear favourite in the market for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (formerly the Neptune), where he’s a best price of 7/1.
DEATH DUTY had no issues with dropping back to 2m2f, making light work of his opposition to record a comfortable victory in the Grade 3 Novice Chase. He was ultimately a little disappointing last season, failing to justify favouritism in the Albert Bartlett at the festival before finishing third at the Punchestown Festival, however, chasing was always going to be his game and he can be expected to take top rank this season.
In the concluding bumper we saw yet another impressive Gigginstown horse, with newcomer FELIX DESJY justifying his position at the head of the market with a cosy 10-length victory. He showed some signs of greenness, and shaped as though he’ll improve for distance over time, but he’s definitely one to keep an eye on.