Bolger on the mark at Punchestown

Jody Ted ridden by Mark McDonagh jumping the last to win The Pertemps Network Group Handicap Hurdle from Gabbys Cross ridden by Darragh O'Keeffe, 2nd, right, and Alpesh Amin ridden by Conor McNamara, 3rd, striped cap. Photo: Patrick McCann.

THE Enda Bolger of Bruree trained-nine-year-old Birchdale recorded his first win since taking a big handicap chase at last year’s Dublin Racing Festival with a smooth success in the Risk Of Thunder Chase over the banks’ course at Punchestown on Sunday.

With Simon Torrens riding in the JP McManus silks, the 5/2 favourite hardly put a foot wrong as he raced to a three and a half-length victory over the Richard O’Keeffe-trained 16/1 chance Vital Island.

The winner might turn out again at Cheltenham in a couple of weeks’ time.

At the same meeting, conditional jockey Mark McDonagh (Cratloe) and trainer Eoin Griffin won the three-mile handicap hurdle with Jody Ted.

A strong 2/1 favourite on the back of a runaway win over fences at Limerick in late October, the nine-year-old had a little in hand as he beat the Henry de Bromhead-trained 9/2 chance Gabbys Cross by a length and a half.

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