The market spoke in favour of Anibale Fly and Desoto County, and, while the latter was still in the mix turning in, the former disappointed.
Turning for home, the eventual winner came under a ride from Walsh but responded well, was brought the brave route along the rails, and then switched to take over from The Plan Man as they jumped the final obstacle.
The dual-purpose performer stretched out well to win in the manner of a horse which could develop rapidly through the season.
The win also provided a birthday bonus for assistant trainer David Casey, whose wife, Áine, is also a member of the syndicate.
Casey, who retired from the saddle late last season, turned 40 yesterday.
“He ran a bit better than I expected — I didn’t think he’d be straight enough for that,” said Mullins. “But they went such a gallop it played into his hands — they went very fast and it just seemed to collapse.
“I thought it was probably ride of the week from Ruby — he was only 12th jumping the hurdle at Ballyhack. He got a lovely run through but was brazen enough to take it.
“The horse just missed the cut for the Galway Hurdle last season, so hopefully he’ll get into it this year. He is also entered in the Scottish Champion Hurdle.”
After numerous good efforts in defeat, Mr Diablo’s turn came in the four-runner beginners’ chase.
It was straight-forward for the odds-on favourite, who asserted between the last two fences to beat Bobbie’s Diamond.
“He had been coming up against one all year,” said winning trainer Philip Dempsey.
“But I’m delighted to get this for his owner, Aidan Glynn, who lives nearby.
"I was surprised how tacky the ground was when I walked it, and he didn’t jump as well as he can out of it. We’ll probably look for a novice handicap chase at Punchestown next.”
Coney Island looked a high-class prospect when making a successful handicap debut, off a mark of 130, in the INH Stallion Owners EBF Novice Handicap Hurdle Series final.
Trained by Eddie Harty for JP McManus, and ridden by Barry Geraghty, he won a maiden hurdle at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting but made no impact in a Grade One at the same track next time.
Dropped significantly in class and upped to three miles this time, he travelled stylishly, jumped well, and readily accounted for a useful field.
Harty said: “He looked class when he won his maiden, and maybe the Grade One came too soon.
"He’s still a raw horse and, on that ground and on that day, it was probably a step too far. We stepped him up in trip for a good prize, and the better ground helped.
“I don’t know if there’s anything for him at Punchestown, but it’s a nice way to go out for the season if you have to. It looks like chasing will be his game.”
Colm Murphy, on the mark with Empire Of Dirt at Cheltenham, took the three-mile-one handicap chase with Cara’s Oscar, who asserted late for a comfortable victory.
Dantes King looked home and hosed in the hunters’ chase, but jumped markedly left at the final obstacle, allowing Sydney Paget, ridden by Roger Quinlan and trained by Pat Doyle, to score.
Owner JP McManus claimed a fifth winner of the meeting when Miracle In Medinah got up late to land the bumper under a fine ride from Luke McGuinness.
Winning trainer Gordon Elliott said: “Luke is only 16 or 17, and a very good young rider. I’d say it’s a nice horse, too. I’d have been very happy if he had finished fourth or fifth.”
- In keeping with the 1916 celebrations, Clonmel Races have a very special €19.16 offer for family admission to their National Hunt meeting tomorrow evening, first race 4.10pm. The offer includes admission for two adults and up to four children, with complimentary race cards and a €5 free bet.