No surprise as Enda Bolger dominates cross country race

Sun 11 Feb 2018

Auvergnat led home a 1-2-3 for owner JP McManus and trainer Enda Bolger in the P. P. Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase at Punchestown.

Auvergnat PTown 21 Auvergnat was best of the JP McManus trio to fill the podium (PA)

Repeating last year's success in this three-mile banks race, Auvergnat (7-2) just held a rallying Josies Orders by a short head, with Blue Templar 10 lengths away in third.

The first two home will now head to the Cheltenham Festival along with stablemate Cantlow, who was a late absentee.

"That's our little lot done now before Cheltenham," said Bolger.

"Whether our lads are good enough to handle the likes of Cause Of Causes, I don't think so, but we don't know what will turn up. Auvergnat is still relatively young as well.

"There is nothing we can do, only win, so I'm happy with that.

"Cheltenham is the plan for the first two, and Cantlow also. Cantlow just gave a little cough this morning and we had him primed for his run.

"He'll go straight to Cheltenham and he loves it there, the drier ground suits him too.

"We're happy, job done, and we'll freshen them up now and maybe have a couple of days to the seaside and things."

Hardline made the most of a drop in class to regain the winning thread in the I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle.

The Gordon Elliott-trained six-year-old had been third in two Grade Ones since scoring at Wexford and Clonmel, and took this Listed opportunity with both hands.

The 5-2 joint-favourite capitalised on mistakes at the second-last by the two leaders Riders Onthe Storm and Another Barney, with Davy Russell taking the initiative.

Riders Onthe Storm got his second wind but Hardline had flown and was two and a quarter lengths to the good at the line.

"He's a grand horse. It probably didn't suit great with the other horse making a mistake as he was left in front. He's a horse that would be better off coming at them," said Elliott.

"It was a nice race to win and we'll try and find something similar. He's probably just a bit below a Grade One horse but he'll be a nice chaser next year."

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