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Page last updated at 22:09 GMT, Friday, 1 May 2009 23:09 UK

Solwhit clinches Punchestown win

Solwhit (left) and Punjabi battle for victory after jumping the last
Solwhit (left) and Punjabi battle for victory after jumping the last

Solwhit is set to bid for Cheltenham Festival glory next year after a gutsy Rabobank Champion Hurdle win at Punchestown on Friday.

Sent off the 2-1 joint-favourite in the hands of Davy Russell, the Charles Byrnes-trained gelding won by a short-head from Punjabi with Quevega third.

Byrnes said: "I was very concerned at the fourth-last as he lost a bit of ground but Davy always felt confident.

"He'll go on a break and we'll bring him back for the Champion Hurdle."

The five-year-old secured the first Grade One prize of his career when winning the Aintree Hurdle over two and a half miles last month but showed a drop to the minimum trip to be no barrier to success.

As Sizing Europe weakened on the run to the final obstacle it was left for Solwhit and Punjabi to fight out a barnstorming finish, with the former coming out just ahead.

The Willie Mullins-trained mare Quevega was the other joint-favourite and ran with plenty of credit to finish third.

"I've never won a Champion Hurdle before so I don't know what route we'll take to get there, although I imagine he'll stay at home in the build-up to Cheltenham," added Byrnes.

"We took him over there last year for the Boylesports race (Boylesports.com International) but that was called off and he didn't travel over there well.

"But he was fine when he went over to Aintree and hopefully that's all behind him.

"He goes on any ground, he's the best I've trained and this is just unbelievable."


Radobank Champion Hurdle
1. Solwhit (DN Russell) 2-1 jt fav
2. Punjabi (BJ Geraghty) 7-2
3. Quevega (R Walsh) 2-1 jt fav
9 ran, Dist: shoulder



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