Mullins, what a day he enjoyed at Leopardstown yesterday, was on the mark again when Outlander proved a very impressive winner of the Grade 2 Nathaniel Lacy And Partners Solicitors’ Novice Hurdle, writes Pat Keane.
He got beaten in a three-horse race at Limerick at Christmas by the second here, Martello Tower, with Mullins indicating he gave rider, David Casey, the wrong instructions.
There were no such problems on this occasion, with Paul Townend producing Outlander to cruise to the front early in the straight and beat Martello Tower with lots in hand.
“He looked as good today as he promised to be as a bumper horse”, declared Mullins. “I’d imagine the Neptune at Cheltenham will be the plan, it is the first race that comes to mind.”
Gordon Elliott’s well-regarded No More Heroes, who shocked Mullins’ Shaneshill at Navan, went off favourite, but proved very disappointing, not helped by some sloppy leaps.
Dermot Weld’s Windsor Park too was disappointing. Held up by Davy Russell, he made no impression in the closing stages.
Henry de Bromhead’s Bishops Road shrugged of top weight to land the Racecourse Of The Year Handicap Chase.
Always near the front, he was sent into the lead by Bryan Cooper before the second last and then held on to beat Heathfield and Ruby Walsh.
Cooper’s whip appeared to make contact with Heathfield’s head about a hundred yards out and Walsh lodged an objection, which was over-ruled.
Said de Bromhead: “I’m delighted, he jumped really well, which he didn’t do at Punchestown, or the time before. The penny is just starting to drop.”
The Donohue Marquees Maiden Hurdle was a modest contest by Leopardstown standards, but produced a real battle between the eventual dead-heaters, Gladiator King, and ex-pointer, Prince Of Scars.
Gladiator King looked sure to score heading to the last, but was awkward at the flight and had to rally back to join his rival on the line. He did edge to his left at the obstacle, but was quickly straightened out by Tony McCoy and there was no chance of an alteration to the placings, following a stewards’ inquiry.
Mark Enright, who recently revealed that he suffers from depression, guided Philip Rothwell’s Paddy O’Dee to a popular success in the Sandyford Handicap Chase.
Paddy O’Dee made a lot of the running and found plenty in the straight to give Rothwell a first winner since last April.
Jessica Harrington, out of luck with Jezki, had some compensation when Woodland Opera, a daughter of that excellent racemare, Opera Hat, was far too good for Willie Mullins’ Fugi Mountain in the Bumper.
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