Twinlight bounces back to his best

A sparkling reappearance from Ladbrokes Ireland Fortria Chase winner Twinlight was the highlight of trebles for the formidable combination of Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh at Navan yesterday.

Twinlight bounces back to his best

Twinlight had something to prove on his return to action, having lost his way after a flying start to last season, but he bounced back to his best in the Grade Two feature.

Kept wide throughout by Walsh, the seven-year-old impressed in the jumping department, albeit edging out to his right on occasions.

He moved powerfully into the straight and picked up well from the final fence to score by seven and a half lengths from joint-favourite Days Hotel.

The other joint-favourite, Baily Green, was found to be distressed post-race.

Mullins said: “That was a nice surprise as I thought the ground might be a bit too dry.

“Ruby gave him a super ride and kept filling him up with air. He jumped great.

“The Hilly Way at Cork looks the next place.

“We’ll run in whatever we can over two miles as that’s his optimum trip.”

The champion trainer also took the two other Graded races in County Meath, with Mckinley claiming the ’For Auction’ Novice Hurdle and Zaidpour stamping his class on the Lismullen Hurdle.

Mckinley, ridden by Bryan Cooper, was a comfortable two-and-three-quarter-length winner over fellow Gigginstown House Stud-owned runner Fort Smith.

Mullins, who also struck at Limerick to end the day with a four-timer, said: “He’s improving nicely all the time.

“I’d say that ground stayed nice and wasn’t too soft. He’ll go up in grade now.

“I’d rather have nice ground for him, I don’t think he’s a real middle-of-the-winter horse but we’ll see and let him tell us.”

Three-time Grade One winner Zaidpour (8-13 favourite) is not always the most reliable of individuals, but tends to do well early in the campaign and rewarded odds-on backers with a routine Grade Two victory under Walsh.

“It was straightforward and the conditions of the race suited,” said Mullins.

“I thought the ground was probably still too good for him and Ruby said he felt it a bit.

“We’ll motor on and the Hatton’s Grace (Fairyhouse, November 30) looks the obvious thing to do now, I suppose.”

Walsh completed his hat-trick aboard the Tony Martin-trained Gallant Oscar (even-money favourite), who made the most of his an attractive mark over the smaller obstacles in the Ladbrokes On Course Ireland Handicap Hurdle.

Enda Bolger’s 5-4 favourite Gilgamboa had a winning start to his career over fences in the European Breeders Fund Beginners Chase.

Blood Cotil made a bold bid from the front for the Mullins-Walsh combination, but he was mowed down by last season’s Hurdle winner after the final fence in the hands of Mark Walsh.

Frank Berry, racing manager for winning owner JP McManus, said: “You couldn’t ask for much better. He has been schooling well and it’s nice to get that out of the way.

“We’ll try and find a winners of one race for him. A step up in trip wouldn’t bother him and we’ll see what’s around in the next few weeks.”

Mullins’ long odds-on favourite Uradel was a bitter disappointment as Kabjoy (9-2) claimed the Join Navan Members 2015 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle for Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power.

Power said: “She did it well. From the first day we schooled her she was a natural and loves jumping. She’s very, very good and enjoys it.”

The Noel Meade-trained Harvey Logan (6-4 favourite) and Niall Madden edged ahead after a thrilling climax to the St Johann Ski Resort Tirol Austria Handicap Hurdle.

Nina Carberry booted Charlie Swan’s 4-1 shot Rogue Trader to a runaway success in the concluding bumper.

* The Hilly Way Chase at Cork and the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase are under consideration for Mick Winters’ stable star Rebel Fitz.

The nine-year-old tasted success at the highest level in the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse in the spring and has returned in fine form this autumn, winning on the Flat at Listowel before he was triumphant in the Istabraq Hurdle at Tipperary.

While Winters remains keen on a potentially mouthwatering Christmas clash with Sizing Europe at Leopardstown, he is keen to give his charge more match practice beforehand, with a trip to Cork on December 7 currently the favoured option.

“He’s in good order and we’ll see what the weather is doing in the next couple of weeks,” said Winters.

“We might look at the Grade Two race in Mallow (Cork, Hilly Way Chase). It’s only two miles, which might be on the short side, but it’s right on our doorstep.

“The other option is to go for the John Durkan in Punchestown, which is on the same day. He’ll probably get an entry in that, but we might just stay close to home and go to Cork.”

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