A fiercely competitive renewal of the Festival bumper, with all but two of the field having been successful on their previous start.
However, if this in theory made picking the winner more difficult than ever, there was one thing punters could rely on and that was that this race has become a benefit for the Irish in recent years.
Indeed, this year they enjoyed a clean sweep, with COUSIN VINNY leading home Corskeagh Royale and Zaarito. In fact, Irish runners filled six of the first seven places.
This was only the winner’s second start and he showed plenty signs of greenness on the run in, veering badly left under pressure. However, he was a comfortable winner in the end and looks a very smart prospect. His victory was a particularly sweet one for trainer Willie Mullins, who has dominated this race since its inception, as Cousin Vinny was ridden by his son, Patrick.
Corskeagh Royale looked likely to benefit from the winner’s greenness half way up the run in, but there were no excuses for the runner up and he was beaten fair and square. He travelled like a good horse throughout the contest and should win plenty of races in the future.
Zaarito was a well backed favourite going into the race having been unbeaten on three previous starts. Again, he lost little in defeat but just lacked the winner’s turn of foot. The worry is that he doesn’t appear to have quite as much scope as some of the horses who finished around him.
Of those further back, Shoreacres, in fourth, was best of the home contingent. He didn’t have the clearest of passages through the race and probably deserved to finish closer to the front three. He too hung left on the run in.
Meanwhile, Cockney Trucker (eighth) and Mahonia (twelve) are worth noting for the future. The latter stayed on in eye-catching fashion at the death, whilst the former faded after racing prominently throughout. Both may prefer a sounder surface and should improve with time.