and ironically, the highlight of his brace was provided by Martello Tower, trained by his mother Mags for his former boss Barry Connell.
Just three horses contested the Grade 3 Cliona’s Foundation Novice Hurdle, two of them representing Gigginstown House Stud and Willie Mullins.
And, when odds-on favourite Outlander, tanking throughout, came to challenge the eventual winner turning for home, David Casey’s mount looked an assured winner.
But, on the short run-in, Martello Tower, conceding 6lb. to his two rivals, fought back tenaciously, forcing his head in front again close home to triumph by a neck.
“We had to give 6lb. to the other two. But this horse has great heart and battled back well – he’s a horse that will never win by far.
“It’s a case of onwards and upwards with him,” stated winning owner Connell.
Danny Mullins emphasised: “My mother has done a great job bringing him back after such a heavy fall in Navan - we feared the worst when it happened.
“He’s very tough and seems to be improving with every run. He probably needs to step-up to go to Cheltenham, but that’s exactly what he’s been doing. There should be plenty more big days in him.”
Mullins teamed up with Outlander’s trainer, his uncle Willie, to initiate his double as four-year-old chasing debutante Gitane Du Berlais, a Grade 3 winner over hurdles, made all to land the Cube Printing Mares Beginners Chase by eighteen lengths, being left clear when nearest pursuer Hell Cat Maggie capsized at the final fence.
Clear throughout, the 4/7 favourite had the race in safe-keeping when untidy at the second last and when making a significant mistake at the final obstacle, an incident played down by her rider, “It was just a case of getting from A to B.”
Mullins said: “It was a good performance by a four-year-old – my biggest job was pulling her up.”
The Ryans Cleaners Beginners Chase went to the John Joe Walsh-trained Sonny B, which travelled strongly for Brian O’Connell and had eased past longtime leader Annie Oakley when that mare took a crashing fall at the last. “He loves that ground and, although his jumping was a problem, he’s getting his act together,” said the successful trainer.
My Hometown, trained for J P McManus by Enda Bolger, was sent off the shortest-priced favourite of the day and had to knuckle down to see off C’Est Notre Gris and Cliff House in the opening maiden hurdle, prompting his trainer to comment: “He’s big, raw horse, a chaser for next season. We’ll sit on the fence for a while, but spring ground should be right up his alley.”
In a week which yielded four Grade 1 wins for the ‘maroon and white’ at Leopardstown, the colours of Gigginstown House Stud were carried to victory by the Mouse Morris-trained Ravished, ridden by Ger Fox, in the three-mile handicap hurdle.
A quick reappearance at Tramore on Thursday is possible for the Seamus Fahey-trained Black Ice, a shock winner of the Racing Home For Christmas Handicap Hurdle under Shane Butler.