Mullins’ hero was On His Own, who also landed this major prize two years earlier, with the ten-year-old producing a quite remarkable performance.
Said Mullins: “When you think of the type of chasers Tom Dreaper had it is nice to be mentioned in the same breath, it is a great honour.”
Mullins — he admitted guiding Ruby Walsh towards one of his other runners, Vesper Bell — indicated to Paul Townend that he wanted to hear Dessie Scahill (course commentator) call the horse in front going to the first fence. Townend didn’t disappoint and behaved precisely as he was told.
On His Own proceeded to make most, but when he hit the fourth last had every reason to call it a day, considering he had 11-6 in the plate and was 17lbs higher than when winning previously.
But he’s a real battler and was back in front heading to three out. He then hung rather dramatically to his left, before edging away to the right going to the final fence.
But all of the time he was surging forward and crossed the line a whopping six lengths clear of Los Amigos.
Commented Mullins: “That was a good performance and a great ride from Paul. It was a fantastic effort, given his weight.
“We said at the start of the season we wouldn’t mind him and run the horse in all the big handicaps.”
Those big handicaps very much include the Grand National at Aintree, even though On His Own has shown a dislike for the fences on three occasions in the past, twice in the National itself and also in the Becher Chase.
Mullins, however, seemed totally unconcerned regarding such a consideration and quipped: “He can’t win it if he doesn’t run in it.”
Townend, enjoying a first taste of Thyestes glory, said: “He jumped brilliantly, except four out, where there was a miscommunication. He winged fences and really enjoyed himself in front.”
Los Amigos, backed down to favouritism, ran a cracker for a horse with so little experience, as did third placed Oscars Business, who got into the contest as first reserve.
Mullins’ Balnaslow took fourth spot and might have finished closer, but for getting it wrong at the last.
He certainly shaped as one for the future, especially when the surface begins to dry out.
Mullins’ hot pot Abbyssial duly landed the Nugent Spirit 25 Horsebox Hurdle, but his display could be best described as workmanlike.
Ruby Walsh had the imposing son of Beneficial in front from the start, but had to bustle him along in the straight before beating stable companion, Noble Inn, by a length and a half.
“We bought him as a chaser and he jumped big, just like a chaser”, said Mullins. “Cheltenham wouldn’t be my first thought, but he will be entered. I’d be thinking more about taking him back to France.”
Mullins completed a treble when Black Hercules justified favouritism in the Bumper, with a clear-cut success.
Taken to the front early in the straight by Patrick Mullins, he eased away to beat Montys Meadow by eight and a half lengths.
“He’s a chaser in the making, but will get an entry at Cheltenham (Bumper)”, said Mullins senior. “He wants soft ground and I might find a race here at home and not go with him.”
There was a setback for the Mullins-Walsh combination in the Grade 2 John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle when 1-2 shot Zaidpour proved a costly failure.
He beat Mala Beach easily at Leopardstown at Christmas, but the form was turned over completely here.
Zaidpour was beaten a long way from home, while Mala Beach powered through to head long time leader, Un Beau Matin, between the last two flights and score going away by eight lengths.
Gordon Elliott trains the first two home and had a ready explanation for Mala Beach’s victory.
Said Elliott: “It was a messy race the last day, there was no gallop and that played into Zaidpour’s hands.
“Mala Beach is a big three-mile chaser for next season, he could go for the Stayers’ (Cheltenham), but the ground would have to be soft.” RaceBets introduced Mala Beach into the World Hurdle at 33-1.
Mullins and Walsh were responsible for the odds-on Dogora in the PMF Accountants’ Beginners Chase, but he ran way below expectations.
Taken to the front coming away from the fourth last, Dogora cut out like he was shot in the straight. It subsequently transpired that he had burst a blood vessel.
Victory went to Dessie Hughes’ Some Tikket, swept into the lead by Bryan Copper at the final fence to beat the flattering Followmeuptocarlow.
Hughes, who returned from a break in Barbados on Tuesday, missed the race, having a previous engagement.
Eoin Doyle’s The Winkler, 7-1 to 5-1, got up close home to grab the Four Star Langton House Hotel Maiden Hurdle in the hands of Michael Butler.
Sizing Granite looked the likely winner when edging ahead coming away from the second last, but was gradually reeled in by the winner, who arrived just in time to score by a head.
“He’s a good, tough horse”, reported Doyle. “He disappointed us at Leopardstown, but things happened a bit quick for him.
“Hopefully, he will go into novice company now, he’s been working very well for the last ten days. He definitely wants a longer trip and does nothing in a hurry.”
Tom Foley’s well-backed Never Enough Time won the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle in a canter.
Partnered by Ger Fox, the six-year-old eased into the lead after the third last and soon stretched on to beat Danequest by ten lengths.
“He was really good, I hope the handicapper wasn’t looking”, said Foley. That was a faint hope and there is little doubt Never Enough Time will face a severe hike in the weights in the future.