Success in a maiden hurdle and the concluding bumper saw Willie Mullins land a double at Punchestown on Monday. With Paul Townend suspended, Sean O’Keeffe came in for the ride on 6/4 favourite Highwind in the opening two-mile maiden hurdle and he guided the Audrey Turley-trained four-year-old to a two and three-parts of a length win over the Jessica Harrington’s Pigeon House. The first and last race double was completed when Maughreen made a winning debut in the mares’ bumper. Running in the colours of the Closutton Racing Club, the 1/2 favourite, closely related to the great Faugheen, raced clear under Patrick Mullins inside the final furlong to win by all of 11 lengths from the Terence O’Brien-trained Harrys Annie.
Barry O’Neill recorded his sixth win on the David Christie-trained Ferns Lock in the three-mile hunters’ chase at Thurles on Sunday. An 8/15 favourite, the seven-year-old repeated his success in the same race last year when making all the running to score by an easy eight lengths from the Emmet Mullins-trained Romeo Magico. The winner is now a leading fence for the hunters’ chase at next month’s Cheltenham Festival.
Down Royal – Tuesday, January 23 (First Race 12.40pm)
Fairyhouse – Wednesday, January 24 (First Race 12.30pm)
Gowran Park – Thursday, January 25 (First Race 1.05pm)
Dundalk – Friday, January 26 (First Race 4.30pm)
Fairyhouse – Saturday, January 27 (First Race 1.05pm)
Naas – Sunday, January 28 (First Race 1.20pm)