Teahupoo Completes Cheltenham-Punchestown Stayers’ Hurdle Double

May 3, 2024

Teahupoo and rider Jack Kennedy walk to the winner’s circle. (Breandán Ó hUallacháin photo)

By Breandán Ó hUallacháin

Teahupoo completed the Cheltenham-Punchestown Stayers’ Hurdle double on day three of the Irish National Hunt Festival at Punchestown, County Kildare, Ireland, on Thursday.

An impressive winner of the stayers’ hurdle championship at Cheltenham in March, the Robcour-owned gelding started the Punchestown race as 5/6 favourite to complete the double, despite the race’s statistics not being in his favour.

Anzum, in 1999, was the only horse to win the staying race at both festivals. Only two winning favourites has claimed the stayers’ hurdle crown at Punchestown in the last decade, while 11 of the 14 previous winners of the race had won only once earlier in the season – Teahupoo had won twice prior to Wednesday, at Fairyhouse and at Cheltenham.

Trained by Gordon Elliott, a former Aintree Grand National-winning handler, and ridden by Dingle, County Kerry-born rider Jack Kennedy, the seven-year-old son of Masked Marvel, who was bidding for an 11th career success, battled in the home stretch with Asterion Forlonge, who was 12 lengths behind Teahupoo at Cheltenham last month.

Teahupoo. (Breandán Ó hUallacháin photo)

Kennedy and Teahupoo found themselves in a pocket but once the Kerry jockey extricated the favourite, they powered up the home straight with Teahupoo staying on for a commanding six and a half-length victory to claim the Grade 1 Punchestown Ladbrokes Champion Stayers’ Hurdle.

Home By The Lee, trained by Joseph O’Brien, who won the opening day feature on Tuesday, the Grade 1 William Hill Champion Chase with Banbridge, came home fast and late to take third place, a head behind the Willie Mullins-trained runner-up Asterion Forlonge, in the colours of Joe and Marie Donnelly, who sadly lost one of their top horses, Shishkin, last weekend.

Teahupoo and rider Jack Kennedy walk to the winner's circle. (Breandán Ó hUallacháin photo)
Teahupoo, rider Jack Kennedy and connections walk to the winner’s circle. (Breandán Ó hUallacháin photo)

It was an important success for 25-year-old rider Jack Kennedy as he bids to win the Irish jump jockeys’ championship for the first time. Ironically it was his great rival, six-time and reigning champion, Paul Townend, whom he defeated in the day’s feature contest. 

A usually calm and relaxed Jack Kennedy was more animated than usual following this key success, stating:

“That was very important. Even without the [jump jockeys’] championship, I’m delighted for the horse. He’s been great to me and he’s really after stamping his authority on the staying division.

“I think Paul [Townend] had his eye on me. He was trying to do, I’d say, what he could to get me beat but I just needed to get out and get in front of him because he was kind of able to do what he liked to me if I didn’t.

“This lad’s [Teahupoo] brilliant. You can do anything you like on him. You can make a move like that and go forward on him without getting lit up or anything. So, he’s a pleasure.”

The successful handler, County Meath-based Gordon Elliott, was delighted with Teahupoo’s performance, explaining:

“It was great for the horse and great for Jack. He said he was stuck in a bit of a pocket behind Paul, and he had to get out. He said the ground might be as quick as he wants it, but he was very good. He’s a great horse.”

Connections celebrate accepting the trophy for Teahupoo's victory. (Breandán Ó hUallacháin photo)
Connections celebrate accepting the trophy for Teahupoo’s victory. (Breandán Ó hUallacháin photo)

A relieved winning owner, Brian Acheson of Robcour, spoke of both his delight and relief post-race:

“All the doubts of last year are now put to bed. I was really worried coming here. My God, did her give a performance. [Watching the race] it’s petrifying, it’s torture as you want the horse to show everybody how good they are. This is all about Teahupoo. I think he is the first horse since Anzum in 1999 [to complete the Cheltenham-Punchestown Stayers’ double].”

Teahupoo’s season will now conclude with the aim of another Stayers’ Hurdle double the likely target for next season.

@PastTheWire bingo!!! 9/2 easy winner!!!

Rick St. Pierre @rstp354 View testimonials