With the Irish trainers’ title battle reaching its climax, Willie Mullins got a big swing in his favour on day four of the Punchestown Festival.
His dual-purpose gelding Wicklow Brave caused a minor surprise in landing the feature, the BETDAQ Punchestown Gold Cup.
In the hands of his son Patrick, the former Irish St Leger winner raced keenly and was allowed to stride on after the fifth flight.
He established a good ten-length advantage with half a mile to go and was still clear coming to the second last.
My Tent Or Yours and stable mate Arctic Fire tried set off after him on the turn for home but the eight-year-old kept on pulling out more to lift the prize by a length and a half.
Favourite Vroum Vroum Mag, who failed to fire under Ruby Walsh, was reported to have been lame behind after the race.
Only a handful of winners off Jamie Codd in the race for the Irish Amateurs’ title, Patrick notches yet another Grade 1 win and in the process helped his father edge closer to retaining the trainers’ title which didn’t look likely a few days ago.
“He’s nearly stood at the start but going forward he was jumping fantastic I didn’t want to bring him back,” reflected Patrick.
“He’s always threatened to do this. It’s nice to ride a Classic winner over hurdles. He’s so quick over his hurdles he’s like liquid.”
A son of Beat Hollow, Wicklow Brave has now won four time over hurdles which included a comprehensive win in the County Hurdle.
He’s so quick over his hurdles he’s like liquid
Only last September he was beating Order Of St George in the Irish St Leger at the Curragh under Frankie Dettori.
Mullins senior said: “I actually thought he was well beaten turning for home and then I could see Patrick just eyeing up the last and could see him thinking I just got to get this right.
“He was in the zone for getting him across the line and I was really happy for him.”