“It’s a great relief to get his head in front,” said trainer Tom Cooper, after he had just watched his son, Bryan, do the driving.
The winner coasted through the contest and it really was always a matter of whether his stamina would finally ebb away at a trip over which he had never won.
But he came there cantering between thee final two fences and only had to be pushed out to beat Snooze by five and a half lengths.
Cooper senior added: “Things didn’t work out for him in the Paddy Power (Cheltenham), after he made mistakes over the first few fences.
“Three miles on heavy ground was a worry. I am now going to train him for the Grand National (Aintree) and he is likely to have two more races before that.”
Stan James introduced Forpadydeplasterer into their National betting at 50-1.
Willie Mullins’ Marito made a smashing debut over fences in the Killinan Beginners Chase, after being backed as if defeat was out of the question.
He jumped and travelled quite beautifully for Ruby Walsh and had the look of a winner a long way from home.
The always prominent Savello held a narrow lead when blundering badly two out, but Marito had his measure anyway and quickly eased clear to score hard-held by 11 lengths.
“He stays and I will have no problem stepping him up to two and a half and two six,” reported Mullins. “He’s not the biggest horse, but is strong.”
Mullins Vesper Bell went off at slight odds-on in the www.thurlesraces.ie Beginners Chase, but went under to market rival Make A Track.
The pair had it between them a fair way out and when Make A Track was none too clever at the third it last, it looked as if that might prove decisive.
But Davy Russell soon gathered him together. Charlie Swan’s charge then took a marginal lead two out and stayed on to beat his rival by a length and a quarter.
Joked Swan: “It is great to beat Willie,” before adding, “he is a good, honest horse, but just below graded class. A winners’ of one will be next.”
Bookmakers began their day with a screamer in the Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Mares Beginners Chase, victory going to 25-1 shot Cnoc Seoda, trained by Declan Queally and partnered by his son, also Declan.
She was difficult enough to fancy, but jumped for fun in front and had Mae’s Choice beaten when that one got it wrong at the last.
Commented Queally senior: “She’s been a bit disappointing, but we put on a tongue strap and expected her to run well. We will now try and pick out a winners’ race for mares.”
The heavily backed Carrig Millie was travelling sweetly on the heels of the leaders when crashing into the third from home and was never a threat after that.
Saoirse Dun, who cropped up at 12-1 at Naas previously, went off favourite for the first division of the Ken Whelan Hangs Up His Boots Handicap Chase and duly obliged.
Partnered by Paul Townend, Saoirse Dun edged to the front over the third last and found plenty for pressure to beat Optime.
Declan Bates, who took a spectacular tumble from Borolee, was removed to hospital with a suspected broken left collarbone.
The second section of the same contest went to Whiskey And Red, completing a double for Bryan Cooper.
Cooper, a superb judge of pace, brought the winner through with impeccable timing to lead going to the final fence and easily beat the flattering Another Flutter.