Sir survives last-fence blunder at Punchestown
Report: Punchestown, Tuesday
Growise Champion Novice Chase (Grade 1) 3m1f, 5yo+
SIR DES CHAMPS overcame a shocking blunder at the last to record his seventh straight success in the hands of Davy Russell for owner Gigginstown House Stud and trainer Willie Mullins.
The six-year-old, having his first start in Grade 1 company and over the 3m1f trip, looked set to score by a wide margin before he clattered through the final fence and sent Russell up around his neck.
The pair somehow managed to retain the partnership and went on to score by 36 lengths from Shop Dj after Mossey Joe took a heavy fall at the same fence, which resulted in Frisco Depot being brought down.
Mullins said: "It was quite fortuitous, I think. Davy [Russell] did well to stay on but he was doing it nicely before that. I think he was lucky to stand up.
"It was his first Grade 1 win and we'll try and keep him sound for next season."
Sir Des Champs, an impressive winner of the Jewson Novices' Chase at Cheltenham last month, was sent straight into the lead by his jockey and he jumped economically throughout.
Willie Mullins: trains Sir Des ChampsPICTURE: Caroline Norris
The 2-7 favourite maintained a largely uncontested lead until Mossey Joe attempted to move alongside as the field went down the back straight on the final circuit.
Rounding the turn into the home straight, Sir Des Champs kicked clear as Russell tried to take the sting out his rivals.
A clean jump at the second-last fence gave him a clear lead and he looked destined to score easily as he approached the final obstacle.
However, he got far too low and the mistake almost ejected Russell out of his saddle. Despite the shuddering error, the partnership remained intact and the rider said he was looking forward to riding the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup ante-post favourite again next season.
"He's fine and he has done his job this season very well," said Russell. "I'm definitely looking forward to next season but he needs to mature for another summer out in a field if he's to go up to the next level. I'm not getting carried away yet."
Betfred cut Sir Des Champs to 11-2 favourite (from 6-1) for next year's Cheltenham Gold Cup.