Willie Mullins leading Champion Hurdle chance Saint Roi will head straight to Leopardstown at Christmas after suffering his first defeat of the season at Punchestown on Sunday in the Grade One Morgiana Hurdle.
The leading Irish trainer was looking to land his 10th straight win in the Punchestown Grade One over hurdles, but unfortunately it was not to be with the Gordon Elliott trained Abacadabras landing the feature contest.
Saint Roi was a valiant second after getting into a tough spot two hurdles out and never being able to fully recover, but still only going down by a neck and left Mullins encouraged for the season ahead with that being his first run in a Grade One.
(Credit ATR) “So much went wrong, but there are a lot of positives to take out of it,” said Mullins.
“He was beaten only a neck and in another couple of strides past the line he was probably in front.
“He made mistakes and got on the wrong side of things here and there, but the performance was still good. He was pulling hard and Mark (Walsh) was caught between a rock and a hard place.
“The ground was testing and he was hoping he’d drop the bridle halfway around. Then they all rushed by him at the second last and he found himself in a bad position, but these things happen.
“I’m hoping what we learned about the horse might be to our advantage the next day. I’d imagine Leopardstown at Christmas is the obvious route with him.