Bay Of Plenty For Hughes
Bay Of Plenty For Hughes
Sporting Life

Davy Russell

Tofino Bay handled the desperate conditions best as he made just about every yard of the running in the Stephens Green Hibernian Club Hurdle, the opening race on day three of the Punchestown Festival.

Trained by Dessie Hughes, the lightly-raced nine-year-old has been consistent without getting his head in front this season, chasing home the top-class Get’Me Out Of Here at Fairyhouse last time out.

The money arrived for David Pipe’s The Tracey Shuffle who went off the 15-8 favourite and travelled well for a long way before tiring between the final two flights.

It was Ruby Walsh on Turban who emerged as the biggest danger but he was just feeling the pinch when a mistake at the last cost him dearly.

Tofino Bay (5-2) held on to win by two and a quarter lengths under champion-elect Davy Russell.

Hughes said: “It’s lovely to win a race here.

“He was very good in Fairyhouse and when he won his bumper that was real good ground so I was a little bit afraid with it being so heavy today, but he handled it very well.

“He jumped impeccably and he quickened when he needed to. He’ll go over fences next year.”

Russell said: “His chance today was really obvious “To be fair to Dessie he’s done a great job getting him here because he’s had his fair share of injuries.

“We went as quick as we would have liked and my fellow has a lot of energy and pulled out all the stops.

“If he stays injury free hopefully we can get stuck into him over fences.”

Patrick Mullins produced a masterclass to put top-weight Uncle Junior in front right on the line at the end of four miles and a furlong in the Avon Ri Corporate & Leisure Resort Chase for the La Touche Cup.

Dropped right out in the early stages under his welter burden of 12st 7lb, his supporters would not have spotted him until the field joined the racecourse proper.

There were not many casualties over the unique banks course but Outlaw Pete was still in with a chance when he unseated Josh Halley at ‘Ruby’s Double’ for the third and final time.

That left 25-1 chance Lydon House in front and he appeared to have the race won, but Uncle Junior (6-1 co-favourite) was making relentless progress after the last and got up in the final stride to give Willie Mullins a sixth winner of the Festival. Saddlers Storm was third.

Mullins jnr said: "It wasn’t very fast but we got there and that’s what matters. He’s everything you want in a racehorse because he tries.

"He was tired at the back of the last and I thought my chance had gone but to have a horse like that is invaluable.

"If you’d seen him school the first day you would never say he’d win any of these races but he’s taken to it now."

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