'He's a dream ride' - Presenting Percy roars back to form in Boomerang Chase
It had been 95 weeks since Presenting Percy last visited the winner's enclosure, but the dual Cheltenham Festival hero returned to something approaching his best at Thurles on Thursday, brushing aside top-level performers Kemboy and Monalee to land the Listed Boomerang.ie Chase in style.
To say plenty of water has gone under the bridge since the 2018 RSA Chase star's second Galmoy Hurdle win in January 2019 would be an understatement.
From warming up for the first of two Cheltenham Gold Cup bids by jumping around Galway backwards, to returning from his first crack at the race with a bone bruise, it has not been plain sailing for the nine-year-old.
He left more questions than answers when falling two out in last season's Gold Cup before departing Pat Kelly to join Gordon Elliott this summer.
However, Thursday's dominant six-and-a-half-length success proved he is still capable of mixing it with the best around when bringing his A-game.
Presenting Percy's rivals were making their seasonal debuts, while he had the benefit of a Ladbrokes Champion Chase fourth at Down Royal, but this was a renaissance of sorts for owner Philip Reynolds' pride and joy.
"He had race fitness on his side and put in an exhibition of jumping," said Jack Kennedy, who was becoming the fourth different rider to partner the 165-rated chaser in the last year.
"I had sat on him at home before and he's very straightforward - a dream to ride."
Kennedy added of the 3-1 winner: "I was happy at all stages of the race, especially with how he travelled. I was nearly taking him back going across the top because I was going that easy. Hopefully getting his head in front could do him the world of good."
Bookmakers cut Presenting Percy to 3-1 for the Gold Cup after he landed the Galmoy in 2019, but this time the response was much less extravagant, as he was shortened to 16-1 (from 33-1) for the Cheltenham showpiece with Paddy Power, as well as a 20-1 (from 33-1) quote for the Randox Health Grand National with the same firm.
"I was delighted with how he jumped and travelled, he did everything right," added Elliott.
"We knew he'd improve from his run at Down Royal. I'd imagine we can look forward to Leopardstown at Christmas now, that run puts him right back in the mix."
Three-time Grade 1 winner Kemboy, sent off the 11-10 favourite, made a couple of mistakes but still travelled up menacingly between the winner and third-placed Monalee turning in, trading as low as 1.58 in-running.
Kemboy's jockey Paul Townend said: "He made a mistake at the last fence up the back and that came at the wrong time for him. He had a good blow and I thought he ran okay."
Henry de Bromhead, trainer of third-place Monalee, added: "He's run well. He tends to improve from his first run back and Rachael Blackmore seemed to be happy."
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