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Vantour off to a Moscow Flyer at Punchestown

Updated: Saturday, 11 Jan 2014 17:02 | Comments

Paul Townend clears the last on Vautour to win the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle
Paul Townend clears the last on Vautour to win the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle

Vautour was all out to land the odds in the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.

The 1-4 shot, trained by Willie Mullins, was pressed hard from the last by Western Boy and just got the better of that rival under Paul Townend.

Chicago made the running until Vautour went on after the second last, but the hot favourite, who is ante-post market leader for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham, did not have things his own way.

Townend was happy with the winner and he told At The Races: "The second is probably a good horse in his own right. He looked very good at Christmas in Leopardstown

"I was happy with my lad. He jumped well. I don't think the other horse was ever going to go by me. I pulled out plenty when I needed to. I was happy with the performance."

"I'd like to get another run into him before Cheltenham"

Mullins said of his three-quarter length winner: "He idled going to the last then fiddled it. When Paul asked him, he felt he had plenty in the tank and I loved the way he fought back when he looked beaten.

"He'll come on from that. As he goes up in grade they will go faster, which will help.

"He was pulling too hard and using up petrol. I'd like to get another run into him before Cheltenham.

"I don't know what distance we'll go for. Maybe he's more of a Neptune horse than a Supreme.

"He looks a real chaser in the making and that's where his future is.

"Western Boy is a very decent horse and the two of them of pulled well clear of the rest."

Mullins and Townend doubled up when City Slicker banished the memory of a poor run in the Ladbroke at Ascot with an emphatic victory in the Punchestown Rated Hurdle.

The 11-4 chance had odds-on favourite Un Beau Matin for company entering the closing stages but was always travelling best and jumping the last in front, kept on well to score by three lengths.

Mullaghanoe River fell two out when going well at Down Royal last month, but Noel Meade's 2-1 chance put that behind him with a ready victory in the Festival Hospitality From 99euros Beginners Chase, collaring the odds-on Si C'Etait Vrai to score by three-quarters of a length under Paul Carberry.

Annie Oakley was only fifth jumping the last in the Follow Us On Facebook & Twitter Handicap Hurdle, but Jessie Harrington's 6-1 shot responded well to Robbie Power's urgings to swoop down the outside for a head victory.

Francis Flood's Too Late To Sell (12-1) was a 10-length winner on his last visit to Punchestown and repeated the trick in the Connolly's Red Mills Amateur National, taking charge on the home bend under Jamie Flynn and pulling 15 lengths clear of Carry Each Other.

Shark Hanlon's Refused A Name (7-2) was given a hefty hike up the ratings after winning easily at Down Royal last time but it made no difference as he led after the second-last to take the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase by two and a half lengths under Chris Timmons.

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