Wednesday, April 27, 2022
THEY became famous as the owners of the history making Cheltenham and Punchestown winner, Quevega, and Sean Deane and Ger O’Brien of the Hammer and Trowel Syndicate from Clane made history again on Day 2 of Punchestown on Wednesday when Facile Vega, son of Quevega, completed the Champion Bumper Cheltenham/Punchestown for trainer, Willie Mullins and his jockey son, Patrick.

Patrick Mullins on Facile Vega goes clear to win the Champion Bumper at Punchestown ahead of Jody Townend on Redemption Day Photo: INPHO/James Crombie

Facile Vega provided Willie Mullins with a third Grade 1 on Day 2 of the Punchestown Festival, the champion trainer finishing with a four-timer to bring his tally for the meeting to date to seven.
Ridden by Patrick Mullins, Facile Vega completed the Cheltenham/Punchestown double with a gutsy defeat of stablemate Redemption Day, ridden by Jody Townend, in the Race & Stay At Punchestown Champion INH Flat Race.
“He was quite worked up in the parade ring and down at the start, which wouldn’t be like him, so I think the season was probably starting to get to him a bit,” revealed Mullins Jnr.
“But I said it all before Cheltenham, there wasn’t much between this fella and Redemption Day on homework and I don’t think people would believe me but that was the case today. Redemption Day is a very good horse as well.
“Turning out the back straight, I’m thinking to myself, ‘You’re a bit flat,’ and I wanted to hold onto him as long as I could. And I’d love if I’d had the balls to let Jody go past me. I didn’t even want to get involved as early as we did.
“I was happy I’d beat American Mike for gears but I thought Redemption Day might be a little bit quicker than me. But he was flat today and he still won.
“Jody is riding out of her skin at the moment and I often feel like Wile E Coyote trying to catch her… About 10 yards before we walked into the tapes, I could feel Jody was there. I knew she was there all the way. But this fella, he got headed and he battled back. So he’s the full package.
“(Owners) The Hammer & Trowel Syndicate made a €5,000 donation to the Irish Injured Jockeys fund, so they deserve this because that was a very gracious gesture and we’re very appreciative of it.”Speaking after the race, Sean Deane, the bricklayer of the Hammer and Trowel Syndicate said, “It’s a great story for everybody, all the families, all the neighbours and all the counties.”

His colleague, the carpenter, Ger O’Brien said, ” Patrick (Mullins) just lines them up and points him where to go. He had a little battle today with our good friend Tim O’Driscoll and Redemption Day. John Berry started working on this fellow in Wexford two years ago and he said this is something extraordinary and that he hadn’t seen the like of him in donkeys years and he turned out to be anything but a donkey.”

“Look around here, money doesn’t buy this. The enjoyment and that it brings us and a lot of others, why would you not want to be part of it,” Ger O’Brien added.

Facile Vega is out of Walk in the Park and Quevega has another 4 year old filly from Walk in the Park with Aiden Fitzgerald at the moment preparing to to her jump work. The Dam also has a three year old and a two year old and is in foal to Walk in the Park again.

Royal Rendezvous provided Team Closutton with a fourth success when staying on strongly to bag the €100,000 OMC Claims Handicap Chase, giving Paul Townend a treble in the process, after the earlier Grade 1 triumphs of Allaho and The Nice Guy.
Attendance for the day was 19,934, up 1,047 on 2019.

Punchestown continues on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Don’t miss Niall “Slippers” Madden’s predictions for the two Grade 1’s Thursday, Day 3 of the Festival on www.kildare-nationalist.ie. 

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