Clean sweep for Gigginstown in the BoyleSports Grand National Trial
For the second year in succession Gordon Elliott struck gold in the €100,000 BoyleSports Grand National Trial Handicap Chase as a back to form Dounikos claimed the big race of the day at Punchestown.
Elliott fielded five runners in his quest to follow up Folsom Blue’s triumph twelve months ago and at the end of this three and a half mile test it was Dounikos who stayed on best of all under Davy Russell to emerge victorious.
Wishmoor made a bold bid from the front but coming to the last fence he was being pressed by the Elliott pair of Dounikos and General Principle. Initially General Principle looked like he might be the one to succeed but Dounikos was the strongest on the run in as he came four and a half lengths clear.
"Dounikos ran well for a long way at Leopardstown over Christmas but he was never happy in the Thyestes Chase and ended up falling at the second last," reported Elliott.
"For a big horse he likes that nice ground and he is a horse who will go for the Grand National at Fairyhouse and he could go to Aintree before that. He had some very good form as a novice and got a high rating as a result of that but that's a nice pot today and we're delighted to win it again."
This victory ensured that the winner will get a free entry in the BoyleSports Irish Grand National on Easter Monday while Elliott indicated that the eventual third, General Principle, could be aimed at the Aintree Grand National.
A Cheltenham Festival bid looks to be on the agenda for the smart mare Sinoria following her success in the I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle where she took her tally to two wins from three starts.
Rachael Blackmore was once again seen at her finest on this Henry de Bromhead-trained mare who battled back from being headed on the run in to defeat Chosen Mate by three parts of a length. This mare and Honeysuckle may give de Bromhead a strong hand for the mares novice hurdle at Cheltenham.
"It was a great ride from Rachael and she said Sinoria was very brave the way she picked up after the last," de Bromhead said.
"It's brilliant to have another really nice mare for Kenny Alexander and we are in the very fortunate position to have Sinoria and Honeysuckle. You would have to consider Cheltenham for Sinoria after today and I think they would both stay further so maybe we will look at one of them taking on the geldings."
For the third year in a row the cross country king Enda Bolger sent out the winner of the P.P. Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase as Josies Orders proved too strong for Hurricane Darwin. Another crack at the Cheltenham Festival will be next on the agenda for the eleven-year-old.