Win for Festival fav Getabird
Getabird's Cheltenham Festival dreams are still alive after victory in the P. J. Foley Memorial Race at Gowran Park.
Willie Mullins saddled a four-timer at Gowran
The five-year-old was sent off the 1/10 favourite to provide trainer Willie Mullins with his third victory in the race in four years and didn't disappoint.
Mullins had saddled subsequent Cheltenham Champion Bumper fourth Black Hercules to win in 2014 and sent out Stone Hard to win the following season.
The race was run at a relatively slow pace with just four facing the starter and it developed into a sprint between the impressive Leopardstown winner and Hardline who was reverting to bumpers after falling in both starts over hurdles.
The Rich Ricci-owned gelding responded well to Patrick Mullins' urgings to post a length-and-a-quarter success.
"It was a good performance considering that they went slow and it ended up a sprint finish," the winning trainer told www.irishracing.com.
"We know he has stamina from Fairyhouse and we know he has speed from here. He's improving all the time I think and he'll go straight now to Cheltenham.
"Patrick said he galloped the whole way to the line in Fairyhouse so it was a good performance to actually sprint like the way they sprinted there, giving away weight.
"The second horse got a tow the whole way and the race was run to suit him. He pulled out and Patrick was still able to go away from him from the front which was a good sign in a bumper horse I think."
The winner is a 4/1 chance with Sky Bet for the Cheltenham Festival.
Victory completed a fine day for Mullins who saddled a four-timer, including Shaneshill's victory in the Galmoy Hurdle.
His other two winners carried the silks of powerful owner JP McManus with Great Field making an impressive chasing bow in the PMF Accountants Beginners Chase at Gowran.
General Principle fell three from home when in pursuit of the eventual winner who set out to make all under Jody McGarvey and it was left to Mall Dini to chase him home.
"It was a good performance," said Mullins. "He'll get better (over fences) I hope and I'd say he'll appreciate better ground.
"He has a fair engine and I'll keep him at that trip. He won't go up in trip at the moment anyway."
The market predicted a good performance from Bon Papa in the opening Langton House Hotel Maiden Hurdle and Barry Geraghty never had to get serious with the 1/5 favourite who could have his sights raised.
"He's improving all the time and I was very very pleased with him. I didn't have him on the travelling list early in the season but he is now," said the winning trainer.
"Firstly I didn't think he'd win a bumper but then his homework told us he'd win one and he won it well. He could probably have won a winners if we stayed that way but we decided to go jumping and he's improving with every run.
"He would have no trouble going up in trip and I'd imagine he's a Neptune horse more than a Supreme horse.
"He's more a chaser than a hurdler but the amount of improvement he's shown from last year to this year is phenomenal."
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