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Champion Hurdle hopes still alive for Saint Roi despite Punchestown defeat

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Posted in: Cheltenham Festival News

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Willie Mullins retains full faith in Saint Roi despite his odds-on defeat at Punchestown on Sunday.

Mullins was aiming to win the Morgiana Hurdle for a 10th straight year with last season’s County Hurdle hero, but he endured a luckless run.

Having raced keenly through the early stages before making a mistake at the final flight, Saint Roi eventually closed to within a neck of Abacadabras.

“So much went wrong, but there are a lot of positives to take out of it,” said Mullins.

“He was beaten only a neck and in another couple of strides past the line he was probably in front.

“He made mistakes and got on the wrong side of things here and there, but the performance was still good. He was pulling hard and Mark (Walsh) was caught between a rock and a hard place.

“The ground was testing and he was hoping he’d drop the bridle halfway around. Then they all rushed by him at the second last and he found himself in a bad position, but these things happen.

“I’m hoping what we learned about the horse might be to our advantage the next day. I’d imagine Leopardstown at Christmas is the obvious route with him.

“He made a few mistakes, but I think that was because he was pulling so hard on heavy ground. On faster ground there will be a better pace and it will suit him better.”


Timeform Reporter comment:

"Saint Roi saw Champion Hurdle aspirations blemished but not undimmed, made favourite for this as the sole representative from a stable that had won the previous 9 renewals (not always with the first string), yet easy to forget that this was just the seventh run of his life, and that inexperience found him out in a messy contest, deserving credit for finishing as close as he did in the end; he took a strong hold in mid-field, was reined back after 3 out but a sticky jump at the next (not his first) quickly saw him shuffled back as horses improved on his outside and the pace really lifted, hung right slightly early in straight and was untidy at the last but stayed on to get up for second, beaten just a neck; remains capable of better, a truer gallop sure to suit all the more, and he's got live claims of reversing the form with the winner at Christmas."



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