Penhill lands the Stayers' Hurdle for Mullins

Filed on 16 Mar 2018 @ 11:03

The Willie Mullins-trained Penhill became the first horse to win the G1 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle and the G1 Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle following an impressive success under Paul Townend in the three-mile championship event.

The 12/1 shot travelled sweetly throughout and after winging the final flight, he kept on tenaciously to master Jessica Harrington's Supasundae (6/1) and score by two lengths. Nigel Twiston-Davies' Wholestone (14/1) stayed on well to finish a further three lengths behind in third.

Mullins, registering his sixth winner of the week and his 60th success at The Festival overall, drawing him level with Nicky Henderson as The Festival's winning-most trainer, said: "Penhill must have some engine. I could not believe it watching Paul come down the outside and I thought wow - if he fluffs the last then he could blow up and fall in a hole, but he met the last perfectly and then I thought Supasundae would out gallop him but he kept on powerfully. It is fantastic for Tony Bloom.

"A lot of credit has to go to Holly Conte who leads him up, rides him and does everything with him. She has virtually trained this horse herself I think. She minds him because he is fairly fragile. I will attribute this to Holly.

"He has had lots of niggles which needed tending and that's why we missed the Flat season as we were trying to get him ready and that is when he had problems.

"I would like to put him away now for Cheltenham next year. I don't know what will happen when I say that to connections, but he is not suited to training for the Flat.

"I was hoping to get a run into him, but coming here without a prep race to win a championship race is a huge achievement to the horse.

"I was quite surprised how little he was blowing during the race - he was way fitter than I thought he was.

"He is able to do this job so well, so we might just try a whole different plan. If he doesn't go Flat racing, we might be able to have a better winter racing programme."

Winning owner Tony Bloom, who also owns Premier League football side Brighton and Hove Albion, commented: "To go there and win outside of novice company for the first time is unbelievable and it was brilliant ride by Paul.

"Back in the summer, we were worried as to whether he would run again, but a few months back, I was told he was getting better and fit, but to be able to come back from all that time out and win a Grade One championship race was brilliant.

"He has done it with absolute style. I was concerned two hurdles out whether he would get up the hill after such a long time out, but he has won it going away.

"Paul did brilliantly, he gave him a quiet ride and then coming down the hill, we started to get confident and then jumping the last and going clear was a brilliant effort.

"We had a bet on him, more with hope that expectation but it was a good price and another winner."

Filed on 16 Mar 2018 @ 11:03