By Dan Walsh
The peerless Punchestown racing festival was back to packed stands and top-quality racing yesterday (Tuesday) and the Wexford veteran Vital Island (7/2), having his 11th run over ‘the bank’s course’ won for the first time in the Kildare Hunt Club Chase Ladies Cup.
Ridden by veteran Tomhaggard rider Benny Walsh, Vital Island improved on last year’s runner-up placing to score by half a length to the 7/4 favourite Good Bye Sam for the powerful Patrick Mullins/Willie Mullins team.
This is a popular victory for Benny Walsh who rode his first point-to-point winner in 2002 and has a career total between the flags of 118.
Newtown, Taghmon, trainer Richard O’Keeffe said afterwards: “He loves it around here, he’s been second a few times but he did the job today. He loves the banks.
“He’s been a great old horse and has won four down in Lingstown for me, he knows his job. We’ll see what way he is, but he might run again on Thursday in the La Touche Cup, which is Ireland’s longest race.