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Tuesday 31 January 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Dan Sheridan/INPHO
# Upandrunning
First Irish success of the day as Townend powers home for Mullins on Sir Gerhard
“He showed his class, as keen as he was, to stay going. I was afraid going around that we were in the wrong race, but he showed his true ability”

SIR GERHARD POWERED through the soft ground to justify favouritism in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The 8-11 favourite, trained by Willie Mullins, followed up his Grade One success over two miles at Leopardstown with another – handling the step up to two miles and five furlongs with aplomb under Paul Townend.

Ahead of racing, conditions changed to soft after heavy rain fell on watered ground, making conditions gruelling, and the early pace did not help the keen Stage Star, who emptied quickly after the third-last.

Rachael Blackmore increased the tempo on Journey With Me approaching the stands for the first time, but was always tracked by Sir Gerhard, who was also very keen in the early stages, and the writing was on the wall turning in.

Townend swept to the front and held off the staying-on Three Stripe Life (8-1) to score by three and a half lengths. A tired Journey With Me fell at the last, leaving Whatdeawant (18-1) to fill the minor honours.

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paul-townend-on-sir-gerhard-clears-the-last-and-comes-home-to-win Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Townend said: “He showed his class, as keen as he was, to stay going. I was afraid going around that we were in the wrong race, but he showed his true ability to stay going.

“He jumped the best he has ever jumped on the course. His jumping the last day wasn’t great, but he jumped well there.”

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