Coco Beach has added to the strength of the Irish challenge for the March leg of the Crystal Cup with a stirring victory in today’s PP Hogan Memorial Cross Country at Punchestown. The  11/8 favourite was prominent throughout, taking up the running at the 18th and putting distance between him and runners-up Genois and Fameaftertheglory, who finished 6 and 11l behind.

Crystal Cup followers will have noted the presence of Jet Fighter, last seen at Pardubice, and Vital Island, who ran at Craon and Cheltenham in December, but both failed to fire on this occasion.

It can be reasonably assumed that Coco Beach will be aimed at the Grand National, having finished a 13l second to Chambard in the £85,000 Boylesports Becher Chase over the Liverpool fences back in November. But first, he’ll be tilting at the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase during next month’s Festival alongside stablemates Delta Work and Galvin.

Not even Willie Mullins, who blanket-bombed the weekend’s Dublin racinbg festival with a clean sweep of the eight Grade I races, could outpoint Coco Beach. His Stattler was a remote fourth.

Owners of Coco Beach, Gigginstown Stud, have an exceptional record in the Festival cross country, most recently in 2023 with Delta Work, a winner in 2022 also in the corresponding race. In fact, starting with Rivage d’Or in 2015, Gigginstown has dominated the race’s last 10 years with Tiger Roll in 2018, 2019 and 2021, a near clean sweep of the past 6 runnings.