Held up by Paul Townend at the back of the four-runner field, which became three after Hurricane Ridge unseated Paddy Kennedy at the second, Usa jumped superbly, hit the front sooner than planned, drew clear from the second last and won eased down by four and a quarter lengths.
“He went wrong on me last year – his bloods were wrong,” explained Mahon.
“But I schooled him around Quakerstown and Athenry (point-to-point courses) and he was brilliant.
“This was a good win after a long break and I’m not sure where he’ll go. He could go to Punchestown, but he ran badly there over hurdles last year.
“I just hope we have a clean-cut season with him.”
I Knew Well, winner of a Wexford maiden, produced another display of flawless jumping to justify 6/4 favouritism in the Follow @tupperaryraces.ie On Twitter Rated Novice Hurdle.
Ridden by Niall Madden, Tom Taaffe’s charge saw off Shabra’s Bertolini by almost three lengths, prompting Frank Berry, representing owner J P McManus, to comment: “The conditions of the race suited him well and he jumped great. We were a little worried about the drying ground, but he handled it well.”
Odds-on favourite Unic De Bersy was let down by his jumping again in the two-and-a-half mile maiden hurdle, finishing only fourth behind second favourite Voisey’s Bay. The winner, ridden for Tom Foley by Roger Loughran, beat the fast-finishing High Tail It — in the McManus colours — by four and three-quarter lengths.
“We gave him plenty of time and he’s getting the hang of things slowly,” said Foley, “If he jumps fences, we’ll be okay.”
The runner-up’s performance attracted the attention of the stewards and, after an enquiry, jockey Mark Bolger was banned for seven days and ordered to forfeit his riding fee, trainer Jessica Harrington fined €1,000 and the horse suspended for 42 days under Rule 212 (using the racecourse as a training ground).
Willie Mullins stated: “I want to get him over fences as soon as I can,” after Haymount, ridden by Patrick, made a successful debut in the bumper in which odds-on favourite Joshua Lane was a disappointing third. “He’s a big chasing type and likes that ground. We’ll try to win a winners’ bumper with him before he goes hurdling.”
The tough John Joe Walsh-trained Hard Bought dug deep for a narrow victory in the Like Tipperary Races On Facebook Handicap Hurdle, getting up close home under a strong ride by Brian O’Connell to prevail by a neck in a blanket finish.
Walsh admitted: “I thought it might be a bit quick for him, two miles on that drying ground. That’s his fourth handicap win and, if the ground is on the easy side, he might run again.”
Meanwhile, on a night which produced plenty of shocks in Dundalk, the two best-backed horses of the day, Fact Or Folklore and Hurricane Cass obliged for favourite-backers.
Backed from odds against in the morning at all rates down to 2/5, the Willie McCreery-trained Fact Or Folklore scraped home by a neck from 20/1 shot Azamesse in the median auction fillies maiden and will now be tried in handicaps company.
The Tommy Stack-trained Hurricane Cass, unplaced in a Curragh maiden on his only juvenile start, justified 2/1 favouritism under Wayne Lordan in the Champions Restaurant At Dundalk Stadium Maiden, overcoming some traffic problems before getting the better of Blue Skimmer by three-quarters of a length.