YORKHILL on top of pile
Stephen Mullen looks back on Day Two
Yorkhill gave trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh their fourth winner of the Festival when producing a devastating turn of foot to land the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle.
Mullins is now the most successful trainer in this race, having won it four times.
The six-year-old didn’t have the easiest passage throughout the race but Walsh was determined to hug the inside rail and, when the field turned for home, the gap appeared at the right time for the pair to capitalise.
The 3/1 second favourite got first run on the 11/10 market leaderYanworth,who was taken wide by Barry Geraghty throughout, and this proved to be decisive as the winner skipped clear on the run to the final flight.A bold jump at the last sealed the race as Yorkhill bounded up the hill to record a one and three quarter lengths victory.
Mullins revealed he would be tempted to go down the Stan James Champion Hurdle route with the horse next season.
“He could go novice chasing but I’d be minded now to go down the Champion Hurdle route with him. This fellow looks smart. He won the Tolworth (at Sandown) well and then looked sharp coming round the bend here.I did have chasing in mind for him but I’m not so sure now. He’s a really smart hurdler.”
1) Yorkhill (Andrea & Graham Wylie) Willie Mullins IRE 6-11-07 RubyWalsh 3/1 2) Yanworth (J P McManus) Alan King 611-07 Barry Geraghty 11/10 Fav 3) It’safreebee (Rebel Racing) Dan Skelton 6-11-07 Ian Popham 33/1
BLAKLION ROARS TO VICTORY
Blaklion produced a gutsy performance to land the RSA Chase by half a length from 16/1 shot Shaneshill.
The 8/1 chance,trained locally by Nigel Twiston-Davies, jumped and travelled well for jockey Ryan Hatch and hit the front with a magnificent leap at the last with several of the field still in with a chance.
The seven-year-old battled tenaciously to fend off a challenge from the runnerup and his trainer was understandably delighted after the race.
“That was unbelievable,” said TwistonDavies. “He’s done all his winning on heavy ground but I had a nagging feeling that, because he’s small, better ground might suit him and I think it has.
“Funnily enough, he hasn’t put a foot wrong since he fell here back in November (at the Open meeting). It’s horrible. We don’t like falls, none of us do, but it’s been the making of him.
“Ryan rode him beautifully. He should have been claiming three pounds but he wasn’t.
“Blaklion is not as big asYoung Hustler (who won this race for Twiston-Davies in 1993) or Imperial Commander (won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2010) but you can’t argue with what he’s done today. I hope he makes up into a Gold Cup horse”
1) Blaklion (S Such & CG Paletta) Nigel Twiston-Davies 7-11-04 Ryan Hatch 8/1 2) Shaneshill (Andrea & Graham Wylie) Willie Mullins IRE 7-11-04 Paul Townend 16/1 3) More Of That (J P McManus) Jonjo O’Neill 8-11-04 Barry Geraghty 6/4 Fav
ELLIOTT PROVES THE KING IN CORAL CUP
Diamond King, who joined Gordon Elliott’s yard in the autumn, triumphed at the Home of Jump Racing when landing the Coral Cup.
The eight-year-old, who was formerly trained by Donald McCain, is owned by Diana and Grahame Whateley and was ridden by Davy Russell. A 12/1 shot, he won by one and a quarter lengths and a neck from Long House Hall and Ubak, with Blazer half a length back in fourth.
Elliott said: “He’s a chaser in the making. Hopefully he will be back here next year.
“Every horse is an individual, but we got to know him when he joined the yard, and he certainly likes this better ground. This is his trip.We’ll talk to the owners,but Aintree and Punchestown will be looked at.”
Davy Russell’s victory on the Gordon Elliott-trained Diamond King was the jockey’s 16th Festival winner.
Russell said: “I always had enough horse. He flew the last and was spot on a long way out. He’s trained by a very shrewd man;he’s one of the top trainers in Ireland.”
1) Diamond King (Diana Whateley) Gordon Elliott IRE 8-11-03 Davy Russell 12/1
2) Long House Hall (J D Duggan) Dan Skelton 8-10-08 Harry Skelton 16/1
3) Ubak (Nick Peacock) Gary Moore 810-12 Joshua Moore 28/1
4) Blazer (J P McManus) Willie Mullins IRE 5-10-09 Barry Geraghty 8/1