Before a crowd of 5,578, the classy Bellshill (2/5) made it three from three over hurdles when producing a workmanlike performance to land the Grade One Lawlor’s Hotel Novice Hurdle while Shaneshill, also ridden by Ruby Walsh, followed-up his chase debut success in Thurles in the Irish Stallion farms Novice Chase.
A Grade One bumper winner in the Grade Two Navan Novice Hurdle last time, Bellshill travelled and jumped well in the feature, cruising through to join 66/1 outsider Last Encounter on the approach to the second last flight.
In front when untidy at the last, Bellshill forged clear on the uphill climb to the finish and had five lengths to spare over the longtime leader at the line.
After saddling his second Grade One winner in 24 hours for the Wylies — Yorkhill won the Tolworth Hurdle in Sandown on Saturday — Mullins said: “He has a huge cruising speed but I’m a little concerned.
“He’ll have to brush up his jumping — he was fine until the last two. That’s a bit disappointing, because I didn’t think he needed more practice.
“He might have been idling in the very testing ground, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.”
The Closutton handler added: “He’s a horse I have a lot of respect for and he’s progressing nicely. He’ll be entered for the Deloitte (at Leopardstown on February 6) and we’ll have to decide where to go with all of the novices.”
Boylesports reacted to Bellshill’s win by cutting him to 3/1 from 5/1 for the Neptune at Cheltenham, while Paddy Power go the best price at 9/2.
The Mullins /Walsh /Wylie double had been initiated when Shaneshill (4/7) gave his supporters a scare at the second last fence before seeing off Sizing Codelco by four and a half lengths in the Irish Stallion Farms Novice Chase.
“He gave me a fright at the second last,” admitted Mullins afterwards. “
But he jumped the last slick when under pressure, which was a good sign. He was probably changing gears going to the second last, which wouldn’t help a novice.
“I thought he jumped fantastic up to that. And I’m very happy with him.
“He might need a bit more practice. And the Flogas (formerly the Moriarty) at Leopardstown would fit in well, time-wise ahead of Cheltenham.”
Shaneshill was cut to 4/1 from 6/1 by Boylesports for the JLT Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham while Paddy Power make him a 5/1 shot from 6/1.
Alan Fleming matched the Mullins double thanks to the victories of All You Need in the mares beginners’ chase and Zaheer in the four-year-old bumper.
Chasing debutante All You Need, partnered by Adrian Heskin, outpointed Melbourne Lady, with odds-on favourite Uranna back in fourth.
“She’s not a bad mare and travelled and jumped very well,” said Fleming.
“She should have no bother winning a few more chases.”
And, after the well-related Zaheer made all under Stephen Clements to win the bumper, he said: “He’s a lovely big horse and loves that ground. I’m not sure if he’ll go for a winners bumper or be put away for the season.”
The Henry de Bromhead-trained favourite Hurry Henry (Andrew Lynch) had to dig deep to get the better of Fairly Legal by a neck in the Annual Membership At Naas Maiden Hurdle.
And, in the handicap action, Robert Tyner’s Vicangelome (John Fitzpatrick), reverting to hurdling, edged out favourite Tudor City in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle while Luke Dempsey partnered the Paul Flynn-trained 2/1 favourite Boher Call to a convincing win in the Panoramic Restaurant Handicap Chase.