Penhill wins Albert Bartlett Hurdle for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend
Last Updated: 01/02/18 2:25pm
Willie Mullins and Paul Townend completed a big-priced double when Penhill stayed on well to win the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
The partnership had earlier won the County Hurdle with 20/1 shot Arctic Fire and added the staying novice race when the 16/1 winner found more than Monalee on the run up the hill.
Penhill has been a successful recruit from the flat, where he was trained by Luca Cumani, and this was his sixth win in eight tries from the Closutton yard.
Victory meant Mullins surpassed the five winners trained this week by Gordon Elliott.
Monalee (8/1) had cruised to the front alongside eventual third Wholestone (13/2) on the long run to the final hurdle, but Penhill was stalking both rivals after narrowly avoiding the fall of The Worlds End.
Townend pulled him to the outside and the 100-rated flat horse found plenty to score by three-and-a-half lengths.
He said: "He's a class horse, we kept him wide to get into a rhythm. I won on him over three miles at Christmas at Limerick on heavy ground and he saw it out really well."
Owner Tony Bloom, chairman of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, said: "I'm over the moon for everyone involved, it was a great ride by Paul and it's a brilliant horse we have here.
"He was looking good all the way and two out we were expecting him to win, his hurdling was a lot better than it has been and he's got the pace.
"Racing over three miles has been the making of him, as it gives him more time for his jumping.
"I haven't had many Cheltenham runners, so it is very exciting. I've brought a lot of friends and they're all on at 16 and 20-1."
Mullins said: "It's not a race that has been lucky for us. It's been a great day for Paul with two winners. Penhill has class. We were trying to win with him over two miles, but he just couldn't handle the pace of top-class races over two miles.
"We put him up to three and he did it easily at Christmas, then we said we would go for this race. He will go to Punchestown now and he is horse that could go back on the Flat. He could be a Melbourne Cup horse.
"Maybe he won't be good enough when we go back and try the Flat but we will see. He has got a typical profile for the horses we manage going back to the Flat.
"They are just going two or three miles an hour slower over three and it just gives his brain time to work and get him in the right order jumping."