Winner of the Grade 1 bumper at the Punchestown Festival and successful on his hurdling debut in Cork, the 2/5 favourite tracked stable-companion Stone Hard until the leader unshipped Paul Townend at the seventh flight.
Left in front, Bellshill was tackled turning for home by Tycoon Prince but soon after the second last it was clear that Ruby was in control and Bellshill forged clear in the heavy ground to score in great style.
“I liked the way he quickened after the second last,” said Mullins. “He did it well and I was particularly pleased by the way he handled that ground.
“He’ll have to tidy up his jumping but it was a nice performance and he’ll head to Naas now (on January 3) for the Lawlors Hotel Slaney Hurdle (Grade 1).”
The other star of yesterday’s action was Ttebbob, which initiated a double for Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power in the Grade 3 Klairon Davis Novice Chase, making all to outclass his two rivals – he beat three-time chase winner Lord Scoundrel by no less than forty-one lengths.
“He’s amazing the way he jumps – I’m very scared watching him – It’s a heart-in-the-mouth job, but that was a great display,” said a delighted Harrington.
“I know he stays — he’s won over three miles. But he has loads of boot and we’ll keep him to two miles for now. I know horses will take him on, but you have to let him do his own thing and get into a rhythm jumping. He was more settled today, even in the parade-ring.”
She confirmed the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown on St. Stephen’s Day as Ttebbob’s next target, which will mean a mouth-watering clash with Douvan.
Luck was on the side of Harrington and Power in the beginners chase as 33/1 shot Edwulf, from Aidan O’Brien’s Piltown team, was clear — with the race apparently in safe-keeping — when falling at the final fence, leaving Walk To Freedom to beat Mckinley.
Harrington conceded: “We got lucky, but he deserved to win after bumping into a couple of good horses. He was running a bit on his nerves today, but quickened up well after the last.
“He’s not a two-mile horse. He was tapped for toe coming down the hill but, when he met the rising ground, he picked up well. He’ll go for the Grade 2 novice in Limerick next.”
Gordon Elliott doubled-up for Gigginstown House Stud with Killer Crow and death Duty in the late action.
Death Duty dictated the pace under Nina Carberry and stayed on strongly up the straight to keep market rival Our Duke at bay in the listed Future Champion Flat Race, prompting Elliott to state: “He’s not a bumper horse and probably won’t jump a hurdle this season. But what he wants is three miles and few fences in front of him.”
The double was initiated when Killer Crow, disappointing to date over fences but fitted with a tongue-tie, got the better of The Winkler in the Prancer And Dancer Rated Novice Chase.
Dual bumper-winner Anibale Fly, trained for J P McManus by Tony Martin, swooped late under Barry Geraghty to foil 100/1 shot Broken Soul in the opening maiden hurdle.
Remarkably, Katie Walsh rode her first winner at Navan when Rossvoss, trained by her father Ted, proved a runaway eighteen lengths winner of the Tara Handicap Hurdle.
“On ratings he had 22lb. to spare,” explained the winning trainer.
“But this is the first day I thought he had a chance that he delivered. The blinkers made a difference — he travelled super and jumped super. He’ll probably run over fences somewhere over Christmas.”