Mount Benbulben: put in a perfect round of jumpingPICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Mount Benbulben proves insurmountable
Report: Punchestown, Tuesday
Growise Champion Novice Chase (Grade 1) 3m 1f, 5yo+
MOUNT BENBULBEN gave Danny Mullins a first Grade 1 winner in the colours of Barry Connell since signing as retained rider to the owner when the eight-year-old romped home.
Having been beaten five and a quarter lengths when finishing fourth behind Dedigout at Fairyhouse on his most recent start, Mount Benbulben was sent off a relatively unfancied 14-1 chance here.
He made a mockery of those odds though as he cruised home 22 lengths clear of Teofino Bay after passing the long-time leader two out. That one just held on for second from Lyreen Legend after the pair passed the post together.
Trainer Gordon Elliott had seen Mount Benbulben win just two of his previous eight starts over fences as his chasing career had been blighted by jumping errors but he put in an exquisite round here.
Instead it was his rivals whose chances were hampered by their jumping, Dedigout crashing out early and taking Harry Topper with him and Boston Bob coming down late on.
Connell priased the contribution of Mullins after the win. "He's been a big help to me since he started working for me and has given this horse a great ride," he said.
Of the winner he continued: "I think the fact he didn't go to Cheltenham meant he came here fresher than the others and the longer trip and therefore slower pace meant he was able to really get into a rhythm with his jumping.
"Hopefully we'll be able to go for all the big three mile chases with him next year."
Back In Focus, sent off the 2-1 favourite, disputed the lead early on but dropped out of contention at the business end of the race.