Review Punchestown 31st Dec

Mon 31st Dec 2012, 16:10

Bog Warrior and Davy Russell clear the last at Punchestown
©Healy Racing Photos

Bog Warrior (11-8 favourite) recorded another impressive victory over timber when beating Solwhit in the Follow Punchestown Of Facebook Hurdle.

Last year's Drinmore winner fell on his seasonal return over fences at Down Royal but has subsequently looked very much at home over the smaller obstacles.

Davy Russell took up the running on Tony Martin's charge with three to take, as the returning Solwhit moved from the back of the field into second.< Solwhit kept responding on his first outing for 708 days, butp>Bog Warrior powered away to score by six and a half lengths.

Russell doubled up at Ruby Walsh's expense in the Festival Hospitality On Sale 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle.

The Willie Mullins-trained Fatcatinthehat made the running and had the race in his grasp before a heavy final-flight fall let Noel Meade's Hartside enjoy a lucky win, ultimately easing home by eight lengths from Hazariban.

Vesper Bell (5-4) opened his account over fences at the second attempt with a taking display in the Buy Your 2013 Annual Membership Beginners Chase.

Walsh sat on the shoulder of long-time leader You Must Know Me before kicking on approaching the second-last.< You Must Know Me made a tired mistake at that point but the Mullins representative was already six lengths clear and he skipped home 15 lengths to the good over Carry Each Other, who boxed on for second.

Dessie Hughes' Canaly (9-1) backed up his recent chase win at Fairyhouse with a one and three-quarter-length defeat of Mallowney in the Buy Your Tickets Online At Handicap Hurdle, while Des McDonogh's World Citizen (10-1) narrowly denied Corbally in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle.

Luke's Benefit returned to winning ways for Denis Hogan in the Handicap Chase.

He was collared close home at Fairyhouse recently but was on the right end of a tight finish this time, swooping under Brian Cawley to beat Itsuptoyou by three parts of a length.

GRAND NATIONAL - The Northern Challenge

The Sue Smith-trained Auroras Encore was the last northern-trained horse to win the Grand National back in 2013 but recent victories for that part of the country have been thin on the ground since the likes of Lucius, Rubstic and Hallo Dandy in the late 70s early 80’s showed that steeplechasing was in a healthy state north of the Watford Gap with the likes of Gordon W Richards, Denys Smith, Arthur Stephenson, Peter Easterby and Jimmy Fitzgerald capable of holding their own against their southern and Irish counterparts.