Pallasator dominates Legends

Pallasator and Norman Williamson win the John Shortt Legends Challenge Race at Punchestown Racecourse

Norman Williamson rolled back the years at Punchestown as Pallasator emerged a dominant winner of the John Shortt Legends Challenge Race.

A start-studded field of 16 former riders, including Mick Kinane, Charlie Swan and Williamson, went to post for a charity event run in memory of former National Hunt jockey John Shortt.

The giant Pallasator, a former winner of the Doncaster Cup when trained by Sir Mark Prescott, joined Gordon Elliott this summer to embark upon a career over hurdles.

He was the 13-8 favourite for this one-mile-six-furlong contest and while he has regularly played up before his races in the past, he behaved himself prior to the off and travelled powerfully throughout under the Cheltenham Gold Cup- and Champion Hurdle-winning former jockey.

Once given his head, Pallasator readily stretched clear of his rivals and passed the post with eight and a half lengths in hand of stablemate Tiger Roll, who was ridden by Philip Dempsey.

Monksland, the mount of old ally Paul Carberry, finished third.

Shortt lost his battle with cancer in February, aged 53, but before he died purchased a plot of land on which to build a family home for his wife, Ann Marie, and daughter Alex, and the race will be raising funds towards that goal.

Williamson said: "That was fantastic. They were all talking this morning about me being on the best horse in the race but the reason we're here is to raise money and let's hope people watching send in a few quid.

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"John Shortt was a great pal of mine, a great fella and he was a great horseman as well.

"Thanks to Gordon Elliott and thanks to Sheikh Fahad for letting me ride him.

"We came up with the plan a couple of weeks ago. As Gordon said it put a little bit of buzz to the race with a real good horse in it. I know he won well but at least he ran in it. He gave me a terrific ride."

Elliott said: "He (Pallasator) was the class horse in the race if he didn't misbehave. To be fair, he's behaved with us the whole time.

"Sir Mark Prescott has done all the hard work with him. Maybe it's just the change of scenery that has helped him.

"He'll be hurdling in a couple of weeks time and he jumps very well. He has done loads to schooling.

"He travelled away like he had a bit of spark in him and you'd be delighted with him."

Carberry said: "He ran a great race. We went a good gallop early on and he was coming through them nicely.

"I thought I might have them turning in, but he just got a bit tired in the last furlong and Norman's horse has a lot of class and he picked up and went away.

"It's the perfect start to the season for my horse."

Kinane was reunited with Aidan O'Brien and ended up finishing fourth aboard Ballydoyle inmate Air Supremacy.

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