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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Sim struggles over timberHeadlines
Simenon was disappointing at Punchestown

The Willie Mullins-trained Simenon was beaten at odds-on in the Punchestown Annual Membership Form 95 Hurdle as Davy Russell on Un Beau Matin claimed top honours.

Simenon was a revelation on the Flat in the summer, winning twice at Royal Ascot and running with credit at Goodwood, York and the Curragh after that.

Back to hurdles, the writing was on the wall two from home as he was pushed along in an effort to get on terms with the leaders and he was well beaten when making a bad mistake at the last. At the head of affairs, the Gordon Elliott-trained Un Beau Matin was pushed out to beat Owega Star with something in hand.

Elliott, also on the mark with Tarquinius, was at Cheltenham, where he said: "He loves that soft ground and stays very well. I'm not sure where he'll go next, but it was great to get that win today."

Nick Peacock of Wicklow Bloodstock Limited, owners of Simenon, said: "He wasn't suited by the ground, it's really testing winter ground. Ideally he likes it just on the soft side of good. Racing is 98 per cent disappointment and we've just had a bit of the 98 per cent."

Minsk could yet prove a smart recruit off the Flat and he won with some authority in the www.punchestown.com Maiden Hurdle.

Taking it up a fair way out under Bryan Cooper, the 4-9 favourite only had the previously unbeaten Glens Melody as anything like a danger rounding the home turn. The latter never looked like posing a serious threat, however, and Minsk eased home unpressed by eight and a half lengths.

Cooper, who had teamed up with Hughes to score with El Fontan, said: "I was very impressed and he jumped from hurdle to hurdle and he quickened going to the last. It's nice to get that out of the way and he's certainly one to look forward to."

A dramatic race over the banks course saw Nina Carberry come out on top aboard Arabella Boy for race specialist Enda Bolger, but Lord Nellerie was disqualified after taking the wrong course, where a number of runners followed him.

Clondaw Court (2-5 favourite) looks an exciting prospect after living up to his reputation when hammering his rivals in the Racing At Punchestown Tomorrow (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race.

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