/ Racing

Willie Mullins mops up at Punchestown

Updated: Thursday, 25 Apr 2013 21:41 | Comments

Arvika Ligeonniere relished the return to testing ground and a right-handed track
Arvika Ligeonniere relished the return to testing ground and a right-handed track

Willie Mullins dominated proceedings at Punchestown as he added four winners to supplement the success of star mare Quevega in the feature event.

While Quevega stole the show with her fourth victory in the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle, Arvika Ligeonniere, Twinlight, Upsie and Turnandgo all played their part on a day to remember for the Mullins stable.

Ruby Walsh was the main beneficiary of the Mullins rout, riding four of the winners, starting with Twinlight (8-1), who made all the running in the Bibby Financial Services Handicap Chase.

Mullins said: "We had been considering the two-mile Grade One race (Ryanair), but we felt that this would suit him better.

"It's possible that we could take him to France if we could find something for him there.

Arvika Ligeonniere (7-2 favourite) gave Mullins and Walsh another winner when bouncing back to form in the Ryanair Novice Chase.

The eight-year-old had failed to complete the course on his last two starts after winning two Grade Ones earlier in the campaign.

Mullins said: "Soft ground and a right-handed track are two important ingredients for him, and two miles is probably his trip.

"Ruby got him to settle today. He's over 17 hands and must be the biggest horse in our yard.

"He's just so strong, he's improving and we will probably stay at home with him next season."

Mullins and Walsh made it four on the day when Upsie got the better of Twigline after the last in the Orchid Transport Mares Novice Hurdle.

For a few strides it looked like going either way, but in the end the 9-10 favourite asserted by a length and a half from Paul Townend's mount.

Mullins said: "She's got a good engine but we'll have to brush up her jumping.

"When she learns how to jump she'll be a fair mare. Her homework is great."

And it was five for Mullins when his son Patrick took the Kildare Post INH Flat Race on 9-4 favourite Turnandgo.

Big Shu followed up his Cheltenham cross-country success when bravely holding on to lift the Avon Ri Corporate & Leisure Resort Chase for the La Touche Cup over the banks course.

Barry Cash kicked on some way out on Peter Maher's eight-year-old and was soon a long way clear.

However, Big Shu got very tired and clambered over the final fence.

The pack closed in but the 9-2 co-favourite plugged on gamely to win by a length and a quarter from Another Jewel with the always prominent Bostons Angel third.

Maher said: "He's a brilliant horse because he was very tired. It's very testing out there.

"He's a very honest horse, he's top notch and it's great for the small man like me."

Maher dedicated the victory to top amateur rider J T McNamara, who was paralysed in a fall at Cheltenham last month.

"I want to thank JT McNamara and dedicate that win to him because he started that horse off for me over fences. He was second and fifth in point-to-points and he got that horse jumping," said the County Kildare trainer.

Followmeuptocarlow curled up on the run-in allowing 9-2 favourite Acapulco to snatch the spoils in the dying strides of the Naas Court Hotel And Il Fico Restaurant Handicap Hurdle.

The leader stopped to a walk as Barry Geraghty forced the Edward O'Grady-trained gelding to win by three-quarters of a length. Rogue Angel passed Followmeuptocarlow to take second spot.

Davy Russell, meanwhile, went another step closer to retaining the Irish jump jockeys' championship when he steered Colm Murphy's Rye Martini (11-1) to victory in the Stephens Green Hibernian Club Hurdle.

Murphy said: "It's a bonus to win here as chasing will be his game. I've no doubt that he'll stay three miles."

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