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Published: 19:25 | 26/4/16

Brennan hails 'awesome' God's Own

Tom George's charge wins impressively at Punchestown

Jockey Paddy Brennan thanked God's Own for a thrilling performance in beating Vautour in the Boylesports Champion Chase.

Tom George's eight-year-old had defeated Vautour, trained by Willie Mullins, in the Melling Chase at Aintree, and the rivals were at it again on the opening day of the Punchestown Festival.

Special Tiara set the pace, with favourite Vautour and God's Own following closely, ahead of prospect Simonsig.

All four jumped the penultimate fence more or less together, with God's Own and Simonsig moving into advantageous positions thereafter, before Brennan's mount surged through to secure the win by two lengths and Vautour finished well to take second, with Simonsig third.

"For the first mile, I had no control and I just let him go," said Brennan. "But, to be fair, he came back then, and I filled him up. He was awesome today.

"It's great to ride a big one on my home turf. This is where I'm from, and it's a proud day."

Rich Ricci, Vautour's owner, believes that longer distances may be most suitable to his charge next season.

"He looked flat to me," said Ricci. "He never had a good cut at his fences all the way round.

"He stayed on at the end, but I talked to Ruby (Walsh), and he said he just wasn't himself, so it was probably one race too many.

"I would say two-and-a-half (miles) or two-mile, five (furlongs) suits him; that's probably his trip."

Earlier in the day, Don't Touch It secured glory in the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle.

As in the later Champion Chase, Mullins and Walsh suffered disappointment, as heavy favourite Yorkhill could only manage a poor fourth.

Petit Mouchoir took second for Mullins, with Brain Power third for Nicky Henderson, behind Jessica Harrington's victorious charge, who was ridden by Barry Geraghty.

In the third and final Grade 1, Group 1 race of the day at Punchestown, the Growise Champion Novice Chase, the victory was taken by Zabana.

Andrew Lynch's horse looked secure at the front for almost the entirety of the race, although jockey Davy Russell had to remain composed to ensure that his and Zabana's hopes were not ruined by the rider-less Ballychorus.

Mullins secured second with Outlander, the slight favourite ahead of the contest, with third going to Sandra Hughes's Sub Lieutenant.

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