Blackstairmountain suffers surprise defeat
Report: Punchestown, Saturday
Dr.Maire O'Connor Memorial Hurdle 2m4f, 5yo+
BLACKSTAIRMOUNTAIN, winner of the Grade 1 Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown in April, suffered a surprise defeat on Saturday as the Paddy Flood-ridden Rick got up in the final stride to deny the odds-on favourite.
The runner-up has been mentioned as a potential Champion Hurdle contender and travelled effortlessly through the race, although his jumping was a little scratchy off the sedate pace set by Big Game Hunter.
Jockey Paul Townend allowed the 4-5 favourite to join the leader down the back and moved into a clear lead before the second-last. The race looked over going down to the final flight, but Blackstairmountain again slowed approaching the flight before hitting it hard.
Townend still looked confident though, opting for a slap down the neck as oppose to a crack behind the saddle. However, as Blackstairmountain started to falter, Rick hit top gear and slowly starting to reel in the leader, and in the shadow of the post grabbed a clear lead.
Trainer Willie Mullins offered no excuses for the runner-up, simply saying: "It was disappointing and no excuse."
Winning trainer Dessie Hughes said of the 15-8 winner: "He'sa fair horse, Paddy [Flood] said he hated the ground and never jumped on it, so it was a good performance."
Following the race, Victor Chandler and Betfred left Blackstairmountain unchanged at 50-1 for the Champion Hurdle.
The stewards decided to interview Townend after the race, where the jockey explained that Blackstairmountain had got very tired after the last and he was prevented from riding the horse out fully due to him hanging into the rail, an explanation that the stewards accepted.