Richard Johnson had Dunraven Storm up with the pace from the outset and had Little Jon for company. Johnson made his move after jumping the last and guided the Philip Hobbs-trained gelding up the hill to land the spoils by a length and three-quarters. Vibrato Valtat stayed on well to claim second place, while Duke Of Navan fell at the last.
Hobbs said: “We targeted this for some time. We decided to give it a go and it worked out. He might be nine but he’s a massively enthusiastic horse. He’ll definitely stay two and a half [miles]. He’s keen and wants to get on with things, so why not stay at two. He could go two and a half, so either the Arkle or the Jewson would be options.”
Uxizandre (15-8 favourite) relished the drop back to two miles when making all the running to lift the Shloer Chase. Alan King’s charge kept all challengers at bay at the business end. He pulled away nicely on the run-in to beat Simply Ned by a length and three-quarters, with Dodging Bullets just behind in third.
Owner JP McManus and jockey Barry Geraghty had won separate races earlier on the card and teamed up with Tony McCoy still sidelined. “He had to have a good chance and he loved that ground,” Geraghty said. “He has the pace for two [miles] and he gets further. He’s got the right attitude and has got a bit of class.”
At Punchestown, Hurricane Fly brought the house down as he powered to a third Morgiana Hurdle under Ruby Walsh for the 20th Grade One victory of his illustrious career.
Seemingly not the force of old at the end of last season, the Willie Mullins-trained ten-year-old returned to his best as he gained revenge on current two-mile king Jezki, his conqueror at Cheltenham and Punchestown in the spring, winning with two and a quarter lengths in hand of the 8-13 favourite.
Mullins said: “Ruby was tactically very good. The onus was on the champion [Jezki] to deal with the pace, and it was easier for us to ride our race. Tactically we had the advantage today.”