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Punchestown News

Punchestown News: Curragh: Mullins has magic touch with Digeanta

Posted: 11th Oct 2015

The Tote Irish Cesarewitch won by Digeanta (Billy Lee)

Digeanta (orange cap) heads for home for Billy Lee in the Irish Cesarewitch

  PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)  

Magic Mullins bags the
Irish Ces with Digeanta

Report: Curragh, Sunday

Tote Irish Cesarewitch 2m, 3yo+

IRELAND'S champion jumps trainer Willie Mullins again advertised his incredible dual-purpose talents when getting one over on his Flat colleagues, landing this valuable and prestigious event with Digeanta, who ran out a game and gutsy winner for Billy Lee.

The 16-1 chance, a former course and distance winner, made all the running and fought bravely in the closing stages to repel a number of challengers, including British raiders Guard Of Honour and Sea Pride, who took second and third, with Western Boy fourth.

While Mullins is perhaps more accustomed to plundering big spring prizes at Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown, he is no stranger to long-distance success on the level - indeed, he won this race in 2009 with Dani California - and this victory again proved the point.

In Britain alone this year, Mullins has enjoyed high-profile wins in the Ascot Stakes with Clondaw Warrior and the Lonsdale Cup with Max Dynamite.

Staying power

On this occasion, however, success seemed unlikely a couple of furlongs from home. With Western Boy going nicely up the rail with a few hundred yards to go, it appeared a matter of time before the top weight, owned by JP McManus - whose gold and green silks are more commonly found on jumps tracks in Britain and Ireland - took up the running.

But the Mullins-trained eight-year-old showed resolution in spades and pulled out more for Lee, who was crowning a day to remember following Fort Del Oro's Listed success earlier on the card.

Of Digeanta's all-the-way win in the €100,000 race, the winning rider said: "He was a bit slow out of the stalls last time and never got into a rhythm.

"There wasn't much pace on today so I let him bowl along and he just kept responding."

The Tote Irish Cesarewitch won by Digeanta (Billy Lee)

Billy Lee expresses his delight after Digeanta's determined Irish Ces victory

  PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)  

Of those in behind, Western Boy's effort petered out - he could finish only fourth - and the final danger to the winner came from 25-1 shot Guard Of Honour, trained by George Baker.

The four-year-old was stepping up markedly in class after winning a modest Bath handicap on his previous start, and although running above his odds the task ultimately proved too great.

Sea Pride, a filly trained by Newmarket legend Sir Mark Prescott, also stayed on too late, although quick enough to snatch third, and the 4-1 favourite and seventh-placed Silver Concorde never really threatened to maintain his unbeaten record on the Flat.

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