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    Teahupoo solidified his place at the top of the staying hurdling tree
Teahupoo solidified his place at the top of the staying hurdling tree
Teahupoo solidified his place at the top of the staying hurdling tree. Source: racingpost.com

Teahupoo solidified his place at the top of the staying hurdling tree

With a dominant performance in the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown, Teahupoo solidified his place atop the staying hurdler hierarchy.

A year ago, Gordon Elliott's charge could only finish fourth as the 3-1 joint-favourite for the race. However, this year, Jack Kennedy rode the seven-year-old with such supreme confidence that victory could have been declared far from home.

After travelling menacingly throughout the race, the 5-6 favourite easily won the race by defeating the mysterious Asterion Forlonge by six and a half lengths once they entered the straight.

The winner of the equivalent race at the Cheltenham Festival has not lost at the Punchestown Festival for the first time this century, and the Robcour-owned stayer ends the season undefeated after winning the Hatton's Grace title in early December.

Paddy Power has trimmed him to a 5-2 favourite from 3s to repeat his heroics in the Stayers' Hurdle at Prestbury Park in March. For the time being, he looks to be an unstoppable force over three miles and timber.

A delighted Elliott said: “It was great for the horse and great for Jack, he has a big battle (jockeys’ title with Paul Townend) and it’s going to be a long tough week. He said he was stuck in a bit of a pocket behind Paul and he had to get out. He said the ground might be as quick as he wants it, but he was very good. He’s a great horse.”

Owner Brian Acheson added: “My main thing is about the horse because all the doubters from last year are now put to bed, and it’s great for Jack. I was really worried coming here because the horse didn’t let himself down on the ground last year. He was Robbie Power’s last ride here in the Champion Hurdle and finished last and I was thinking if it would be in the horse’s head. They are emotive creatures and they do remember stuff. By God did he give a performance today and I’m delighted. It’s petrifying, it’s torture because you want the horse to show everybody how good they are. That’s really important for Jack, but Paul Townend isn’t going away.”

But there was a tragic afterthought to the race for the Elliott yard, with Sire Du Berlais suffering a fatal injury. The 12-year-old was the winner of the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree twice in addition to winning three times at the Cheltenham Festival, which included the Stayers' Hurdle last year.

“I’m absolutely heartbroken and he’s been a horse of a lifetime for us at Cullentra,” Elliott told Racing TV. ”Everyone is in bits over it, the girls and the lads at the yard and he’s been unbelievable so we’re all gutted. Thoughts are with JP, Noreen (McManus) and the whole family and it takes the gloss off the whole week, if I’m honest. I’m heartbroken. He was just a horse of a lifetime and you couldn’t write what he has done for us. He always wore his heart on his sleeve and was a great horse.”

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