Sir Des Champs Secures Punchestown Gold
1 Sir Des Champs 2/1F
Sir Des Champs hung on grimly in a thrilling finish to the Bet Online With thetote.com Punchestown Gold Cup as Long Run and First Lieutenant came storming home.
There was not much between Sir Des Champs and Long Run at Cheltenham last month and yet again the pair proved they were closely matched, because as Sir Des Champs began to tire Long Run was coming hard at him after the last. Over on the far side Mouse Morris' consistent First Lieutenant, a winner at Aintree, also had a chance but the 2-1 favourite Sir Des Champs held on by three-quarters of a length from Long Run, with First Lieutenant just behind in third.
Russell, who missed most of Cheltenham and all of Aintree, said: "I've missed enough Grade One winners and that's important to Gigginstown and for myself. You always want to ride in big races and I wasn't disappointed in him at Cheltenham, it was a great run until the last 100 yards and I was very impressed by the winner.
"I was impressed when I rode him in the week, he's tough physically but he's proved he's mentally tough. I was tipping him along and I was worried that Cheltenham might have taken its toll. I was struggling to move him up on the back straight but he completely filled up again and I had loads left over the last two."
Mullins said: "That was a great performance. I thought he looked big in the parade ring before the race and I thought we might have let him down too much after Cheltenham. I thought at the stone wall we were beat, but Davy got a breather into him and he was a different horse. Davy was very positive and he went for the race at the third-last.
"We'll be back to Cheltenham I hope, we might adjust a few little things next year. It was disappointing that the ground changed at Cheltenham but that's racing, he's won the two biggest races in Ireland and has had a good season."
"We have trimmed his odds to 13-2 second-favourite (from 8-1) for the 2014 Gold Cup."
Long Run's owner Robert Waley-Cohen said: "He was beaten by a better horse on the day and that's the second time he's beaten us, but I think that's the best race he's run for a long time and he showed a lot of determination. We'll prepare for the King George again and make a plan for the second half of the season. He won't run in France."
THE TOTE.COM PUNCHESTOWN GOLD CUP (GRADE 1)
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