There was huge drama on the first day of Punchestown, as Energumene was pushed to the limit in a pulsating Champion Chase.
In the end, it was a repeat win for Paul Townend and Willie Mullins, as Energumene also marked a Cheltenham/Punchestown Champion Chase double this year.
But it was far from a procession. Chacun Pour Soi, which was ridden by Danny Mullins, looked like it pull off a famous win, only to fade after the last hurdle.
Energumene lands a sixth Grade 1 victory and repeat wins in the Punchestown Champion Chase but what a run from Chacun Pour Soi in second, rolling back the years in a gripping day-one highlight at @punchestownrace! pic.twitter.com/6XPt1VBN9n
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) April 25, 2023
Speaking after the race, Townend said he was worried when he saw Chacun Pour Soi emerge.
"I know how good Chacun can be around here, so when he appeared I was worried. I thought it was going to come to the jump at the last and Danny seemed to get away from it a bit better than me.
"Chacun's last furlong has always kind of been his slowest, though, so I had confidence in this lad getting him once Danny hadn't gone on me."
Willie Mullins - who also had a winner with Facile Vega and a 1-2-3 in the 4.50 - praised both horses.
He normally wins his races with class, but today he had to get down and fight it out. He answered every call from Paul and showed his grit.
"Paul really pulled that race out of the fire and that's the difference between a good jockey and a great jockey.
"You can see probably the end of the season getting to him. Paul said he wasn't as sharp as his last run at Cheltenham and he missed two fences, which isn't like him.
"I was delighted with Chacun Pour Soi. We had been trying different distances and it wasn't working so we said today we'd come back to two miles.
"We'll see what we do with him now and have a word with Rich (Ricci, owner)."
Mullins has another big day ahead of him tomorrow, with Galopin des Champs looking like a strong favourite to win the Ladbrokes Gold Cup.