Quel Esprit staked a big claim for Cheltenham Festival honours with an effortless victory at Cork.
The Willie Mullins-trained gelding treated his rivals with contempt as he strolled home in the O’Connell Transport Cork Stayers Novice Hurdle.
Leading after the second-last, the 8-13 shot won unchallenged by three lengths from Last Draw in the hands of Paul Townend to follow up his hurdling debut success at Punchestown a month ago.
Victor Chandler were “massively impressed” and make him 8-1 clear favourite from 14-1 for the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham on March.
Mullins’ representative Gary Davies said: “That was a class performance. He was always travelling well and Paul just bided his time.
“He winged the last and he’ll make an exciting chaser in time. He has already won a point-to-point (for Andy Slattery).”