Bacardys gave Patrick Mullins a notable Grade 1 double as he caught Finian’s Oscar in the shadow of the post to win the Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown this evening.
A high quality Anglo-Irish field of nine assembled for this two and a half mile contest.
Let’s Dance was away in front from Outspoken as the field took the first flight.
Settling down, Let’s Dance led from stable mate Kemboy and then Outspoken and The Nipper, with Death Duty biding his time to the outside.
As the field passed the stands with a circuit to race, the front pair matched strides and were about a length ahead of The Nipper and Outspoken and Death Duty, with Bacardys next.
The front two continued to lead by about a length, with Kemboy perhaps just shading Let’s Dance with a mile to race and then The Nipper, Death Duty, Outspoken and the closing Finian’s Oscar.
Racing to the third from home Let’s Dance maybe just put her nose in front but the field were poised in behind, where sadly Runfordave took a dreadful fall.
Two out and Kemboy backed out of the battle as Let’s Dance was challenged by Death Duty and Finian’s Oscar.
Finian’s Oscar shot clear in the home straight and met the final flight three lengths clear of Bacardys who was giving chase and then came Let’s Dance, who was held.
On the flat Bacardys began to eat into Finian’s Oscar’s lead and with Patrick Mullins, brimful of confidence after his win on Wicklow Brave, the Willie Mullins charge ranged alongside his rival.
As the post approached, Bacardys’ momentum got him home for what had looked an improbably victory earlier in the straight, just edging out Finian’s Oscar, with the two a long way clear of Let’s Dance and Death Duty.
The six year old Bacardys had been a high class bumper horse last season and served notice of his hurdling ability when landing the Grade 1 Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown earlier in the year, before being hampered and eventually pulling up at Cheltenham.
With luck in running and a clear target in the home straight today, the manner of his victory mirrored his trainer’s late surge to defend his Champion Trainer title.