Four wins for Elliott and three for Mullins at Punchestown:

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Gordon Elliott claimed a four-timer on Day 1 of the 2022 Punchestown Festival but it was Willie Mullins who took two Grade 1s among his opening day treble.

Energumene (4 / 7f) backed up his Champion Chase win at Cheltenham last month by impressively taking the William Hill Champion Steeplechase at Punchestown this afternoon. In the hands of Paul Townend, the Willie Mullins inmate was an eight-and-a-half length winner over his stablemate, Chacun Pour Soi (5/2) under Patrick Mullins, with 11/1 chance Envoi Allen another six-lengths further back in third place.

“I think we’ve seen the new Champion here today” winning handler Willie Mullins stated as the Closutton team achieved a 1-2, in the opening day Grade 1 highlight.

Mullins Grade 1 double:

Capodanno (11/4) gave Mullins a Grade 1 double when winning in the colors of JP McManus. The Mark Walsh-ridden winner beat Lifetime Ambition and Robbie Power, in a race where the fortunate Cheltenham winner and favorite today, Bob Olinger, was pulled up.

Capodanno, a son of Manduro, was six-and-a-half lengths better than the runner-up while there was another nine lengths back to Fury Road (15/2) and Jack Kennedy in third place.

Patrick Mullins brought up a Closutton 1-2 in the Mick The Tent Flat Race when Lisnagar Fortune (11 / 4jf) gave owner-breeder Denis Fitzgerald a winner. Lisnagar Fortune overtook Vadsa Queen and Jodie Townend in the dying stages of the races for Team Mullins.
Gordon Elliott four-timer, double for Jack Kennedy:

Mighty Potter (20/1) was a surprise winner of the Grade 1 Bective Stud Champion Novice Hurdle, the gelding’s second Grade 1 victory of the season.

The race had been billed as a clash between the Willie Mullins-handled pair Desert Dynamo, a faller at Cheltenham, and Sir Gerhard, winner of the Grade 1 Ballymore Novice Hurdle last month.

Desert Dynamo was the first runner beaten, however, having cut out the running for most of the race. When Sir Gerhard made his effort to challenge he did not have enough to battle past the Gordon Elliott-trained Jack Kennedy-ridden Mighty Potter who went away for a four-length success. Big outsider Gatsby Gray (100/1) took the runner-up spot ahead of 4 / 7f Sir Gerhard a further six-and-a-half lengths back in third under Paul Townend.

Party Central (9 / 42f) got back to winning ways following her seventh place finish at Cheltenham, when taking the opening contest, the Howden Insurance Brokers Mares Novice Hurdle (Listed). The daughter of four-time Ascot Gold Cup winner Yeats, had a length-and-a-quarter in hand on Instit from the Willie Mullins yard.

Gordon Elliott and Jack Kennedy were back in the winners’ enclosure after the third race, The Killashee Hotel Handicap Hurdle. The Gigginstown House Stud’s Felix Desjy (11/1) was a three-quarters-of-a-length winner over Farout (17/2), with Tax For Max (12/1) next in third.

The Elliott-trained Absolute Notions (25/1) claimed the Goffs Land Rover Bumper over two miles by six-and-a-half lengths from the front running Lady Augusta (16/1), who had five-and-a-half lengths in hand on third-placed Nucky Johnson (14/1).

The four-timer Elliott bought the trainer to 1,999 career winners, with the Co Meath-based conditioner expected to pass the major milestone of 2,000 winners during this week’s Punchestown Festival.

Vital Island goes one better in the Ladies Perpetual Cup:

The Kildare Hunt Club Cross Country Chase for the Ladies Perpetual Cup went the way of Vital Island (7/2), who went one place better than last year. The bay gelding held off the strong late challenge of Patrick Mullins on Good Bye Sam, who gave the runner-up 12 pounds.

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