The Duke’s Bank Holiday review

We waved goodbye to the National Hunt season over the weekend, with some familiar faces claiming the top honours.

On Friday, Willie Mullins gave himself the boost he needed heading in to the weekend by winning the Punchestown Champion Hurdle with Wicklow Brave.

Try as he might, Gordon Elliott’s excellent bid to topple the master fell just short, as Mullins triumphed on Saturday for a tenth trainers title in a row. It is all the more impressive that Willie won, given he lost 60 horses after falling out with owner Michael O’Leary at the start of the campaign.

You can read as much as you like about training fees, but big personalities sometimes clash. Willie has proven he is bigger than one owner, but if another, say Rich Ricci were to leave (read what you want in to whispers about Mr Ricci building a new facility in England), then he may struggle to retain the title to the growing force of Elliott. Personally, I think it will be a close run thing again next season.

The same can be said of the Jumps battle in England. With a win in the Celebration Chase, Altior helped Nicky Henderson to the Championship (a fourth for the ever-likeable Seven Barrows chap). Stars like Altior, Buveur D’Air and Might Bite have helped his cause this season and I hope we see some fantastic performances from the same team next year. For what it’s worth, his Vyta Du Roc nearly bagged this column the win in the bet365 Gold Cup.

I’m not one to crib jockeys but I’d be having a bit of friendly banter in the weighing room with Daryl Jacob about knowing there are two finishing posts at Sandown (he was ahead at the second post!). Ah well, not sure many saw Henllan Harri as a likely winner beforehand!

So goodbye to the National Hunt season and as the last sounds of this year’s equines brushing over jumps subsides in to history, the return of a Flat Champion. Minding. A sedate four-runner affair on Bank Holiday Monday, the Group 2 Mooresbridge Stakes at Naas, was easily won by the super mare. No question, she will be a star again this season.

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