Racing: Milenium emerges as successor to Istabraq

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The Independent Online

Davenport Milenium is the new favourite, at 10-1, with the Irish bookmakers Cashmans for next year's Champion Hurdle after romping home for the second time in a week at Punchestown yesterday.

Conqueror of the Cheltenham Festival winner Like-A-Butterfly just 48 hours earlier, the 11-2 chance caused a complete rethink of strategy by his trainer, Willie Mullins, for next year as he proved too quick for the 4-7 shot Ned Kelly who could finish only third, two lengths behind 33-1 chance Just Our Job, who was beaten four lengths by the winner.

"We had been thinking of going novice chasing with him and then perhaps going to Japan later on," Mullins said, "but it looks like we will have to go now for the Champion Hurdle because with Istabraq retired it's there for the taking."

Ruby Walsh, the winning rider, said: "They steadied up down the back, which gave me a chance to get a breather into him, but he came alight."

Ned Kelly began to struggle as soon as Paul Carberry brought him to challenge, while the British raider, Landing Light, finished last of six. There was a British winner of the handicap chase, however, as Brian Ellison's Batswing justified support to beat Shamawan.

CHAMPION HURDLE (Cheltenham) William Hill: 10-1 Hors La Loi, 14-1 Scolardy, 16-1 Bilboa, Davenport Milenium (from 33-1), Ned Kelly (from 10-1), Like A Butterfly, 20-1 others.