Courtncatcher proves too smart at Leopardstown

Courtncatcher knuckled down to claim top honours in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase at Leopardstown.

Patrick Duffy's charge was a 12-1 chance having filled the runner-up spot on his latest appearance at Thurles earlier in the month.

The nine-year-old was one of a number of horses in with a chance rounding the home turn and showed a good attitude after the final fence under Conor Brassil to prevail by two and a half lengths.

Thomond was second ahead of Dallas Cowboy in third.

Gambled-on favourite Katnap was bitterly disappointing.

Duffy said: "He's been running very well but not clicking. He ran well in Cork in the National but maybe didn't get home.

"I've only the one horse so I'm up against it.

"I'm over 80 and I ride him every day. I ride fast work as well. Nobody else rides him but me."

Battleford provided Willie Mullins with his 20th win in just four days as he claimed the Guinness Maiden Hurdle.

The champion trainer saddled six winners at Leopardstown and Limerick combined on Boxing Day and repeated the feat the following afternoon before enjoying a five-timer on Wednesday.

With Mullins having already landed the first two races at Limerick, high-class bumper performer Battleford was the 4-9 favourite to bounce back from a disappointing hurdling debut at Navan last month.

Ruby Walsh dictated matters at the head of affairs and while Coeur Joyeux was a persistent threat, the market leader saw him off by two lengths.

Walsh said: "He probably could improve a bit with his jumping. He didn't jump as well as he has schooled at home.

"He's a tough horse who will like a trip and he'll move up in grade I'd imagine now."

The Mullins domination continued in the Willis Towers Watson European Breeders Fund Mares Hurdle as Let's Dance proved much too good for her rivals.

The four-year-old was a smart performer in top juvenile company last season, but having failed to win a race until scoring at Sligo in May, she remains a novice for the current campaign.

She impressed on her comeback in a Listed event at Punchestown last month and with the multiples running up, she was the 3-10 favourite for this Grade Three test.

Slowmotion kept Let's Dance honest for much of the two-and-a-half-mile journey, but was unable to go with her from the home turn and there was 17 lengths between them at the line.

Mullins said: "She did that well and jumped and galloped like we thought she would do. We're pleased with her and she's improving all the time.

"I didn't really get a chance to talk to Ruby but from what I can gather it was pretty straightforward.

"The mares' novice (at Cheltenham) is only two miles and she might go out further in trip. She may go for the (OLBG) Mares' Hurdle even though she's only a novice. She'll be entered in both.

"Looking at that performance she could get three miles."

The champion trainer added of Battleford: "He was very good but a bit novicey at a few of his hurdles. He was way better than he was in Navan.

"He's another horse that's going to keep on improving. He's so strong and big in himself. I don't know if he's fit yet. He was impressive.

"He'd step up in trip all the time I'd say. Three miles won't be a problem to him. He's a really tough horse.

"He gives himself a hard time all the time, but he thrives on it."

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