The winner’s jumping technique left plenty to be desired, but under a masterful Carberry drive proved too good for Valseur Lido. The pair had clashed in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse, when Valseur Lido beat his rival eight lengths into second.
But a new day and a different track saw that form reversed in no uncertain fashion. The pair emerged as the principals on the approach to the final fence and were in the air together at the obstacle.
On the flat, though, Noel Meade’s Apache Stronghold found loads for Carberry pressure and was a worthy winner at the line.
Commented Meade: “I was disappointed when he got beaten here at Christmas and Paul was even more disappointed. Livelier ground would suit him better, but he did what we thought he could do. He will now go for the two miles and five (JLT Chase) at Cheltenham and will head straight there.
“Paul is a fabulous guy to have on your side and it is nice too beat Willie (Mullins, trainer of Valseur Lido) an odd time.”
Liz Doyle’s Le Vent D’Antan fractured his shoulder when falling at the last and had to be put down.
Mullins’ Nichols Canyon put up a terrific display to land the Grade 1 Deloitte Novice Hurdle. He made every yard of the running for Ruby Walsh and simply galloped the opposition silly.
His stable companion, the much-hyped Alvisio Ville, was travelling well in his slipstream for a lot of the trip, but found nothing when asked by Tony McCoy to go and claim the leader.
In the meantime, Nichols Canyon maintained a relentless gallop and had this in safe keeping all the way up the straight, as Windsor Park stayed on to fill second.
Said Mullins: “He jumps and stays and is improving all of the time. I thought he mightn’t beat the grey horse (Alvisio Ville), but he lacks experience and this fellow is a professional racehorse.
“I’d imagine the Neptune will be his race at Cheltenham, but he could go for the Supreme Novices.”
Mullins saddled the first two in another Grade 1, the Gala Retail Juvenile Hurdle, with Petite Parisienne beating market leader, Kalkir.
Ruby Walsh made his move going to the second last on Kalkir, but they could not shake off the eventual winner.
Bryan Cooper then produced Petite Parisienne to lead at the final flight and the game mare found plenty to beat her rival by a length and three parts.
“I’m happy with both”, reported Mullins. “They will go to Cheltenham for the Triumph Hurdle. That was a good prep and I hope they will improve.”
Ladbrokes make Petite Parisienne a 10-1 shot for the Triumph, with Kalkir on offer at 12’s.
Mullins was on the mark again, this time with his son, Patrick, in the plate, when Prince de Beauchene was too good for On The Friinge in the Raymond Smith Memorial Hunters Chase.
Patrick made the decisive move when sending 12-year-old ahead before the last and On The Fringe could never close him down.
Said Mullins senior: “He goes to Fairyhouse, he’s not qualified for across the water.”
A Mullins four-timer, however, was foiled when the long odds-on Potters Point could not cope with Eoin Griffin’s Archive in the Bumper.
Potters Point made most, but Archive readily went past for the impressive David Mullins at the furlong pole. It was Mullins’ 20th winner and he has now had his claim reduced to 5lbs.
The Irish Stallion Farms’ EBF Mares’ Handicap Hurdle saw the Liam Cusack-trained Who’s That go in at 20-1.
Partnered by Mark Enright, the daughter of Kalanisi stayed on powerfully from the back of the last to beat the flattering Misty Lady.