Penhill takes the last at Limerick Image by www.healyracing.ie

Penhill takes the last at Limerick
Image by www.healyracing.ie

Penhill revelled over the longer trip as he readily put his rivals to the sword in the Grade 2 Guinness Novice Hurdle at Limerick.

Just five went to post for this three mile contest in testing ground.

Rathnure Rebel went into the early lead and was joined by Livelovelaugh at the first, with the Willie Mullins runner moving into a clear lead at the second.

As the quintet raced down the back straight for the first time, Livelovelaugh continued to take the field along from Rathnure Rebel, with He Rock’s third and then Call The Taxie to the inside of Penhill.

The order remained the same as the five passed the winning post with a circuit to run and Livelovelaugh a couple of lengths ahead of Rathnure Rebel.

With five to jump, He Rock’s was the first to crack, as Livelovelaugh increased the tempo, but was the rabbit for Rathnure Rebel, Call The Taxie and Penhill.

Racing to the turn the front four bunched up and Rathnure Rebel started to struggle.

Livelovelaugh led on the turn for home but was pressed by Call The Taxie, while Penhill cantered alongside his rivals and eased to the front at the second last, clearing away most impressively and a sound jump at the last settled matters by a wide margin from Call The Taxie, with Livelovelaugh third.

This was yet another winner in an astonishing week for trainer Willie Mullins and rider Paul Townend, as the giant 5 year old Penhill showed three miles to be his forte.

Townend said: ” I thought we went a good gallop and he jumped OK, but I suppose the step up to three miles helped him. It helps him sort himself out, but he still galloped into one or two (hurdles).

“There was a question mark whether he’d get the trip coming here, but he got it well and I don’t think we hung around.”

Mullins and Townend got the afternoon off to a flyer with Pylonthepressure in the Racing Post Maiden Hurdle, before Benie Des Dieux made a flying start to her Irish career with a runaway success in the Limerick Racecourse Vets Mares Beginners Chase.

“He (Pylonthepressure) has run into one on a couple of days but I was anxious to make use of his experience today. He jumped brilliant, but would want to at this stage in his career,” said Townend.

“I’d imagine he’ll be running in a winners’ race next, as opposed to a Graded race.

“It was a fair performance from the mare. The plan wasn’t to make the running but she was jumping so well, I had to leave her on.

“She had been showing plenty, I was never out of second gear and she jumped like a stag.”

Having also enjoyed two winners on the final afternoon of Leopardstown’s four-day meeting, the champion trainer ends the Christmas period having saddled a remarkable 22 winners in four days.