Leopardstown: Mouchoir makes all in Irish Champion Hurdle
Petit Mouchoir clears the last on his way to success at Leopardstown
PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos) Petit Mouchoir makes all for Irish Champion win By David Baxter 3:37PM 29 JAN 2017
Report: Leopardstown, Sunday
BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m, 4yo+
A MARVELLOUS week for trainer Henry de Bromhead was capped off with a Grade 1 double as Petit Mouchoir held off the late thrust of Footpad.
De Bromhead landed the Thyestes Chase on Thursday with Champagne West, while Some Plan won the Grade 1 Arkle Novice Chase earlier on the Leopardstown card.
The Irish Champion Hurdle lost its star turn on Saturday with the news Faugheen was ruled out, and the race did not end well for Ruby Walsh after a final-flight fall aboard Nichols Canyon.
Only four lined up for a race Willie Mullins has farmed for the previous six seasons, but De Bromhead claimed victory for the first time since 2008, when the great Sizing Europe triumphed.
Petit Mouchoir seized the initiative from the off, with Nichols Canyon for company. There was then a large gap back to Footpad and Ivanovich Gorbatov.
There was little change to the running order for much of the race, with Ivanovich Gorbatov starting to feel the pinch down the back.
Nichols Canyon started to serve it up to the leader on the home turn, while Footpad started to stay on from a long way back.
But Petit Mouchoir was always travelling well, and had enough in reserve to defeat Footpad, who closed to a length after Nichols Canyon had exited the scene.
De Bromhead said: "It's been a fantastic week for us winning the two Grade 1s here today and the Thyestes Chase on Thursday. We're having an excellent season and I'm absolutely delighted that Petit Mouchoir has now won two Grade 1s.
"It's hard to do what he has now done twice – go a strong pace from the front and keep going. He's not a fast horse at home but he is a great galloper."
Petit Mouchoir is now a general 4-1 shot for the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but Paddy Power took a different stance, pushing the six-year-old out to 6-1 (from 9-2).
Runner-up Footpad is now as short as 16-1 for the day one festival highlight, but can still be backed at 66-1.
De Bromhead added: "I gather some bookmakers have eased him for Cheltenham but that's their business and it doesn't concern me."