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Dublin: 7°C Wednesday 14 April 2021

Raffles rounds off fine week for Henderson as Benie Des Dieux seals Annie Power win

The big winners on a busy day at Punchestown.

A general view at Punchestown today.
A general view at Punchestown today.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

IT HAS BEEN a very good week for Nicky Henderson at Punchestown, and he saddled his third winner of the week and his second Grade 1 when the unexposed Fusil Raffles ran out a taking winner of the season’s final Grade 1, the AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle.

Ridden by Daryl Jacob for his retained owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, the French-bred picked up nicely between the last two flights to pick off the front-running Fakir D’Oudairies and drew clear on the run-in to score by two-and-three-quarter lengths. He was returned the 13-8 favourite.

One of the talking points of the whole Cheltenham Festival was the last flight fall of Benie Des Dieux with the mares hurdle at her mercy, but she made up for that somewhat with an ultimately commanding victory in the Grade 1 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Annie Power Mares Champion Hurdle.

It wasn’t a cakewalk for the Willie Mullins-trained mare as she attempted to justify 2-5 favouritism.

She struggled initially to get past stable companion Stormy Ireland, but when she did she drew away from the last flight to score by nine-and-a-half lengths. It was Paul Townend’s first Grade 1 success for Willie Mullins since taking over as number one jockey at Closutton.

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Willie Mullins could hardly have crowned his dominance of another Punchestown Festival in any greater style than saddling the first four home, and five of the first six, in the ultra competitive Ballymore Handicap Hurdle, with victory going to 20-1 top-weight Mr Adjudicator under Patrick Mullins.

Last year’s Triumph Hurdle runner-up was coming back here having practically refused to race at Fairyhouse last time, but showed what he was capable of as he recovered from a last flight blunder to see off stable companions Contingency and Dorrells Pierji by upwards of three-parts-of-a-length. Mullins finished the week with 11 winners.

- Justin O’Hanlon, for more visit the Racing Post  

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