Uncle Junior prevails in La Touche thriller
Report: Punchestown, Thursday
Avon Ri Corporate & Leisure Resort Chase for the La Touche Cup 4m1f, Bank, 5yo+
UNCLE JUNIOR, who disappointed slightly on fast ground when only eighth in the Cheltenham cross country, enjoyed the splash and dash of Punchestown to land the La Touche Cup in a pulsating finish.
Patrick Mullins, challenging for top rider honours at the festival, produced the top weight and 6-1 co-favourite in the dying strides to deny 25-1 chance Lydon House.
Saddlers Storm, another of the 6-1 co-favourites, moved up stealthily under Paul Carberry and stayed on to deny Tally Em Up in third.
A mud-splattered Mullins came from the back of the field down the outside on the 11-year-old, who won the 3m6f handicap chase at the festival last year. They missed a melee at the second-last that cost the closing Arabella Boy and Nina Carberry.
Mullins said: "He's everything you want in a racehorse and put his head down and kept trying. He isn't the best jumper over ordinary fences but is interested more in these."
Free-running Long Strand went ten lengths clear before halfway, setting an exhausting pace as the field constantly ploughed through unscheduled water splashes.
While veteran point-to-pointer Lydon House did remarkably well to just fail having covered the pace, the British challengers Double Dizzy and Shalimar Fromentro paid for racing prominently.
Outlaw Pete, the other in the front rank, led five out but the JP McManus runner slipped on the bank and got rid of Josh Halley.