/ Racing

Champs emerges as Cheltenham contender

Updated: Saturday, 28 Jan 2012 17:22

Sir Des Champs (left) got up late to win the Boylesports Novice Chase at Leopardstown
Sir Des Champs (left) got up late to win the Boylesports Novice Chase at Leopardstown

Sir Des Champs emerged as a major player for the novice chase events at the Cheltenham Festival when showing great courage to win the Boylesports.com Bet On Your Mobile Novice Chase.

Unbeaten since joining Willie Mullins, the even-money scorer already has a win at Prestbury Park on his record but looked booked for third after making a mistake at the last in the Grade Two event.

Fists Of Fury, owned like the winner by Gigginstown House Stud, and Hidden Cyclone were fighting out the finish but Davy Russell galvanised his mount to win by a cosy half-length.

Mullins said: "I'm delighted with that, he is a serious machine.

"He made a few errors there but he galloped on nicely from the last.

"He is improving slowly and he'll go for one of the staying novice chases at Cheltenham - either the Jewson or the RSA."
Russell added: "He was bit lazy throughout but he jumped great.

"He got in a little bit tight to the last but he is a clever horse and he fiddled it. I only had to give him one slap and we were always going to get there.

"I like him, I like him plenty and anything from two and a half miles up will be fine for him."

Mullins had also won the first two races on the card and both runners have Festival aspirations.

Darroun (7-4) could head for the Triumph after winning the Leopardstown.com Maiden Hurdle by one and a quarter lengths.

"He'll jump a fence in time. Paul (Townend) really got him jumping today and he seems to be more confident jumping on better ground. He'll go for the Triumph," said Mullins.

Aupcharlie (2-1 favourite) then finally broke his maiden and may have the Albert Bartlett on his agenda after winning under Andrew Lynch.

Robbie Power starved himself to ride Citizenship in the valuable Boylesports.com Hurdle and the hint should have been taken.

The Jessica Harrington-trained 10-1 chance swooped late to deny Leah Claire and the gallant top weight Staying Article.

"That was fantastic. I've never won a race when everything went so wrong," said Power.

"He's as honest and game as you get though, and he is very quick at his hurdles.

"I was supposed to ride Zaarito for Colm Murphy but when the weights went up I was able to ride this fellow.

"It's been a hard week as I had half a stone to lose - 10st 3lb is my lowest weight."

Ted and Katie Walsh combined to win the Leopardstown Handicap Chase with Seabass (7-1).

A winner of his previous five races - one a point-to-point - he defied the handicapper in fine style, bolting up by seven and a half lengths.

The winning rider said: "That's fantastic and he's my first winner over fences around here.

"He's a brilliant jumper, he'd want to be for me - I like them good and safe.

"Dad has done a fantastic job training him - he hasn't been easy - but it just goes to show what can happen with a bit of patience and time."

Walsh snr said: "He jumped great and travelled well. I was bit concerned about the ground but he handled it well."

Ted Walsh completed a quick 87-1 double when Colbert Station 10-1) in the following Beginners' Chase.

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