Possol not at Perth for fun and fresh air

HENRY Daly is not sending Possol on a near-700-mile round trip to the Perth Festival for the EBF Future Champions 'National Hunt 'Novices' Hurdle "for fresh air and fun".

The seven-year-old started the campaign with aspirations of taking in the Grand National but after two good wins over timber he blotted his copybook in the Grimthorpe Chase. His career over the bigger obstacles was temporarily put on hold and he finished fifth in the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival before running a blinder behind Big Buck's in the Liverpool Hurdle.

Possol won over fences at Perth's festival last spring so he has handled the arduous journey in the past. On official ratings, he is also 18lb clear of his nearest rival.

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"It might look like he faces an easy task on paper but it almost always never works out like that," said Shropshire-based Daly. "He ran a cracking race at Aintree behind Big Buck's and we are certainly not sending him all that way for fresh air and fun.

"The ground is a bit softer up there than anywhere else and that is almost certainly not in his favour – he loves quick ground.

"Next year I would almost certainly imagine he would be back over fences."

On the opening day of the Punchestown Festival yesterday, Golden Silver defied worries about the quicker ground to run out an impressive winner of the Boylesports.com Champion Chase. Merely an also-ran in the Queen Mother at Cheltenham, he had since put up a fine weight-carrying performance to win a handicap under a welter burden in the mud at Fairyhouse.

Ridden by his usual partner Paul Townend, he was always going well in behind the pace-setting Sizing Europe and stablemate Scotsirish. Arkle winner Sizing Europe still held an advantage at the second-last but not for the first time got in a bit tight and relinquished his advantage.

Forpadydeplasterer hit the front momentarily but Golden Silver (12-1) went past with ease to win by two and a half lengths leaving Tom Cooper's stable star second again with Sizing Europe third and Kalahari King fourth.

There was drama at the start when Paul Nicholls' Twist Magic refused to jump off under Tony McCoy.

Mullins said: "I was worried about the ground but we changed our tactics today and it seems to have worked. He's a horse with a lot of ability but he doesn't show us much at home, he saves it for the track. We are just getting the hang of him now I think."

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In what was a great day for Mullins and Townend, 5-1 shot Blackstairmountain showed his flop in Cheltenham's Supreme Novice Hurdle was not his true form as he bounced back by taking the Evening Herald Champion Novice Hurdle.

And Mullins, who dominated last year's Punchestown Festival, took all three Grade 1 events on the opening day of this year's meeting, when Kempes completed a 779-1 treble for him in the Growise Champion Novice Chase under McCoy.