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.