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Michael Graham

Michael Graham

Mullins and Townend double up with Sir Gerhard

Sir Gerhard, right, stalks Largy Debut Sir Gerhard, right, stalks Largy Debut
© Photo Healy Racing

The classy Sir Gerhard made a belated debut over fences in the two-mile beginners' chase and his jumping improved as the race developed.

He made an early blunder at the third fence in this three-runner field as he raced second to Largy Debut with Battle Of Mirbat soon detached in third.

He was a bit sticky at times, but put in his best three jumps in the home straight once he took a narrow lead before the third last.

The 1/6 favourite was well in charge before the last and stretched right away to record a 38-length victory over Largy Debut.

In relation to the mistake at the third, Willie Mullins said: "My heart jumped and he stood so far back at it. I hope his back is alright in the morning as he caught it and did well to stand up, and Paul did well to stay on him. But that is what novices do and it is great to make that mistake early in the race as it puts manners on the horse and he jumped fine after that.

"Paul thought he wasn't racing so, after the fourth-las,t sent him up and was in his hands. He had just been a bit lazy and maybe cantering around on his own on our gallop, he probably thought he was having a quiet day. We teach them, especially the staying chasers, to settle on the mornings they're not working but we were probably overdoing it.

"I imagine he will go to Cheltenham with very little experience and maybe just that run as I don't see anything else in the calendar for him. We might take our chance and go straight there, maybe for the 2m4f Turners chase or the three-mile race (Brown Advisory Novices' Chase) - they'll be going that bit slower and it'll give him a chance.

"We're not that well represented in the three-mile race yet but who knows what'll happen between now and then."

Paul Townend added: "He was in between strides a little bit but, a real good chaser like this lad should be, kind of does live on the edge a little bit like that, so I don't mind it because he got away with it. He's figuring it out.

"I actually got very idle on my own behind Keith (Donoghue on Largy Debut). I wanted to go around the outside again as I did in the last race, but he was just trying to get in behind the other horse, so I just let him in there so we'd get him straight and I'd be able to teach him something. He was good and accurate when I wanted him over the last three.

"I was hoping that was going to happen (come alive at the second last), he just had gone idle underneath me. We are late enough in the season so he needs to learn how to jump going fast now."

Sir Gerhard has previously landed the Champion Bumper and the Ballymore at Cheltenham.

Paddy Power kept Sir Gerhard unchanged at 6/1 for the Turners Novices' Chase and pushed him out to 14/1 from 10/1 for the Arkle. They also cut him from 20/1 to 8/1 for the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase.

Additional reporting by Tom Weekes