The Andrew Lynch-ridden grey got the better of front-runner Baily Green after the challenging You Must Know Me slipped and fell at the second last.
“I’m delighted for that horse – he just didn’t stay in Cheltenham,” said Taaffe. “It’s encouraging that he did what he did three weeks after Cheltenham – you never really know until you run them. We let him down when he came home and he’s having a good blow. So he should come on for the race.”
Taaffe nominated a two-and-a-half mile handicap at Punchestown as Gold Bullet’s next assignment, but warned: “He won’t run anywhere on quick ground.”
A beaten favourite in his two bumper starts, one of them on this track, Nickname Exit made a successful hurdling debut, in the colours of Gigginstown House Stud, in the Goatenbridge Maiden Hurdle, sparking a double for champion trainer Willie Mullins.
The five-year-old jumped well and crept into contention from half-way. But Ruby Walsh was driving him along before the straight, leaving those who had supported the 8/11 favourite anxious, at least for a while.
But, challenging down the outside, he edged ahead jumping the second last before staying on stoutly to beat Master Appeal by three and three-quarter lengths, prompting Ruby to comment: “He jumps very well and that made the difference.”
Mullins, who arrived later to see exciting debutante Myska win the bumper, confirmed: “Nickname Exit jumps very well and will have no problem going out in trip. He might jump fences next month, if the ground is right.”
But Myska, a half-sister to Daring Carlotta, was the undoubted star of the evening, stretching clear in the last furlong and a half to beat Miss Dinamic by four and a quarter lengths.
Mullins didn’t hide his opinion of the Supreme Horse Racing Club owned daughter of Presenting, declaring: “She’s good, a lovely filly with lots of size and scope. She’s been showing us everything at home and should keep improving. She’s in the valuable mares bumper in Punchestown and that’s where she’ll go.”
In the absence of the inured Mikey Fogarty, Jonathan Burke took advantage of the spare ride on Deano in the Slievenamon Beginners Chase. Mary Hallahan trains the eight-year-old, runner-up on his two previous runs over fences, for her father Con, who also bred the gelding.
The winning trainer said: “It’s a pit for Mikey – I hope he’s okay. But Johnny gave him a great ride, he’s been running well and jumped great. We’ll look for a winners of one for him, but it all depends on the weather and the ground. If the ground goes too quick, we’ll let him off for the summer.”
The Terence O’Brien-trained eight-year-old Knockrea got off the mark when proving too strong for Tongie in the opening Ardfinnan Maiden Hurdle.
Ridden by Adrian Heskin, he edged ahead before the final flight to score by two and a half lengths. O’Brien stated: “He was the form horse, if he could put it all together. He had some great runs, particularly in Punchestown and Gowran. He was out for a while and I gave him a couple of runs in point-to-points, hoping to give him a bit of confidence. But it didn’t work out. He’ll probably go to Punchestown for a handicap.”
Cathy O’Leary declared: “She’s small, but she has a big heart,” after saddling Jo Go to win the three-mile Holy Thursday Handicap Hurdle. The 20/1 shot came from well off the pace to get the better of Binowagh Bay by two lengths and her rider Davy Condon added: “She’s a good, genuine mare and has been running in heavy ground. She appreciated the three miles and will be good fun for the summer.”
Gavin Cromwell stressed: “Paul (Carberry) gets a great tune out of her and loves riding her,” after Mallards In Flight won the Happy Easter Handicap Chase at the expense of Five O’clock Tea, before explaining: “She’s in a two mile, six furlong handicap in Fairyhouse on Monday. She has 9-13, plus a penalty and, hopefully, Paul will be able to ride her again.”