Yonger defies absence with Punchestown victory
Updated: Saturday, 11 May 2013 17:05
Felix Yonger returned from 379 days off the track to make a winning debut over fences in the Punchestown For Events Beginners Chase at the Kildare track.
The Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old was second to Simonsig in the Neptune Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham last year but had not been since since his run at Punchestown the following month.
Sent off the 9-10 favourite in the absence of Sizing Rio, Ruby Walsh's mount took up the running before three out and safely negotiated the last for a straightforward length-and-three-quarters victory over White Star Line.
Mullins landed this race 12 months ago with Arvika Ligeonniere and said of the Graham Wylie-owned Felix Yonger: "He seems to be a very well balanced horse. He got in close to the first ditch and landed steeply. He could have easily turned over.
"He put up a bit of a splint and it got too late to run him last season. We kept him for a novice this season and we'll probably leave him off now.
"We'll get him out early again in the autumn."
Mullins did have Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner Champagne Fever in at the five-day stage but did not declare him.
He said of the grey, who disappointed at Punchestown after his Supreme win, said: "They were saying all week that it was drying out at Punchestown and they were missing the rain, so we've decided to let him off for the summer.
"He actually schooled here on this day last year and can he jump - he flew around.
"Nothing came to light after his last run here. A few of mine were just a bit below par early that week."