Gordon Elliott turns to Mark Walsh for ride on Irish Point in Saturday’s French Champion Hurdle at Auteuil

Denis Hogan successfully appeals outcome of controversial Down Royal race with Benji’s Benefit awarded contest

Gordon Elliott has turned to Mark Walsh to ride Irish Point in Saturday’s French Champion Hurdle at Auteuil.

With champion jockey Jack Kennedy suspended, Walsh will team up with the grey for the first time as the Elliott runner bids to finally secure championship success this year.

Runner up to State Man in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, and at the Punchestown festival earlier this month, Irish Point is a 5-4 favourite with some firms to land the French version, the €390,000 Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil. The race is run over an extended three miles and is off at 2.15pm Irish time.

Four other raiders from this country will try to become the first Irish-trained winner since Benie Des Dieux in 2019 including the hugely popular Hewick.


Fourth in this race a year ago, this season’s King George winner will be ridden by Jordan Gainford. He is joined by Mahler Mission (Ben Harvey), Home By The Lee (JJ Slevin) and Mr Incredible (Brian Hayes.)

The latter will also be on board the sole Irish runner in Sunday’s French version of the Triumph Hurdle, the Prix Alain Du Breil, when he teams up with Philip Fenton’s Karl Des Tourelles. The race is off at 4.55pm.

Separately, trainer Denis Hogan has secured a late victory at the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) after successfully appealing against the outcome of a controversial race at Down Royal last week.

Hogan’s runner Benji’s Benefit was hampered by the eventual first past the post Tell Us This on the run-in in a handicap hurdle. However, the race-day stewards left the result unaltered.

That was despite concluding the runner-up had been interfered with, and that the jockey on Tell Us This, Conor Stone Walsh, had ridden improperly. The rider was hit with a nine-day suspension. The stewards felt the winner hadn’t improved his finishing result through the interference.

Hogan expressed dismay at the outcome of the stewards inquiry and the IHRB confirmed on Friday his appeal has been successful with Benji’s Benefit getting the race.

In contrast, the IHRB also said on Friday that Paul Townend’s appeal against a four-day suspension for careless riding on State Man at the Punchestown festival earlier this month has been rejected.

Townend got the ban after State Man crossed his rival Irish Point after the last in the Champion Hurdle. Townend is free to take up his one ride at Wexford on Saturday when teaming up with Shaving for his boss Willie Mullins in the opener.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column