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Michael Graham

Michael Graham

Change of tactics reaps dividends for Bialystok

Bialystok, right, is delivered at the last to challenge Thecompanysergeant Bialystok, right, is delivered at the last to challenge Thecompanysergeant
© Photo Healy Racing

Bialystok availed of a canny ride from Paul Townend to win the maiden hurdle on Naas' card.

The 2/1 joint favourite closed on the heels of the leaders between the final two flights and Townend switched him to the inner jumping the last.

His mount responded and came to claim the leader Thecompanysergeant (9/2) in the closing stages. To his credit, the latter rallied and came back for more close home but was a head short at the line. Valsorpresa (7/1 from 11/1) was four and a half lengths back in third.

Bialystok had been a beaten favourite over flights when third at Punchestown and fourth in Thurles when racing prominently.

Willie Mullins said: “We completely changed tactics, he has a lot of speed and I said to Paul to lock him up and don't let him out until near the last. As it was, I think he appeared in front too soon and was probably lucky to hold on in the end.

“It was a good tactical ride from Paul at the end of the day.

“I'm looking forward to going back on the Flat with him. I got him from Jean-Claude Rouget and he was very sorry to lose him.

“As the ground gets better in the spring time he'll find it easier to get that trip so there will be a nice race in him over hurdles as well.”

Bialystok is the largest city in north-eastern Poland.

Additional reporting by Gary Carson