Back In Focus and Ruby Walsh
©Healy Racing Photos
By Michael Graham
Willie Mullins brought up a double at Punchestown as Back In Focus kept up the gallop in the Grade 2 Florida Pearl Novice Chase, to follow Twinlight’s victory in the previous race.
With Champagne Fever hacking up at Cork, the champion trainer enjoyed an early treble on the day.
Jumping and staying was the name of the game in the Florida Pearl Chase and nobody did it better than Back In Focus (2/5f) who fended off Lyreen Legend (5/2) with a powerful staying performance in the two and three quarter mile contest.
“He’s a tough horse and loves that ground. He wants every yard of that trip and we’ll go the long distance route with him,” Willie Mullins confirmed.
“The three mile Grade One novice chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting is probably the race for him.
“He’s bred for good ground and he floats along on our gallop at home, but he’s just got so much stamina that it comes out on that ground.”
Ruby Walsh, on his second winner of the day, sent Back In Focus into the lead from six out and the pair were never headed.
He said: "He's tough and gallops all day. I respected Lyreen Legend, I thought he was the one I had to beat."
The winning distance was four lengths. Sweeney Tunes came home third in the four-runner race a further 27 lengths behind the market leaders.
< Back In Focus is now a 14/1 chance with Paddy Power, Boylesports and Stan James for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham.
Boylesports cut him from 20/1 while Stan James reduced him from 16/1.
Additional reporting by Alan Magee