Previous festival form came to the fore at Punchestown as Edward O’Grady’s Tranquil Sea claimed Grade One honours in the Land Rover Champion Novice Hurdle.
Andrew McNamara’s mount finished eighth behind Captain Cee Bee in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, but seemed to improve for the subsequent step up in trip at Limerick earlier this month.
That impression was confirmed when he came with a well-timed rattle to see off Fiveforthree and Trafford Lad in the two-and-a-half-mile heat.
The latter pair finished first and third respectively in the Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, but neither had an answer to the turn of foot displayed by O’Grady’s winner.
Tranquil Sea is already as short as 14-1 with Cashmans for next season’s Royal & SunAlliance Chase, while William Hill offer 20-1 for that race and 16s for the Arkle.
O’Grady said: “Hopefully he will make a super chaser next season, he jumps very well and was the winner of a point-to-point before I bought him.
“It has not been a long season for him, he’s only had three runs since Christmas and is a wonderful jumper. He could be a very good horse.
“Things went wrong for him at Cheltenham when he lit up like a Christmas tree at the start and Andrew could never settle him.”
Another to impress was Arbor Supreme, who marked himself out as a top-notch prospect when Niall Madden guided the six-year-old to a stylish success in the Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa Handicap Chase.
Carrying JP McManus’ famous silks, the 12-1 chance could be spotted running away with his Grand National-winning jockey over the final few fences before asserting on the run-in.
He galloped to a five-length victory to continue a prolific week for trainer Willie Mullins, with the Dessie Hughes pair of Black Apalachi and Sea Diver taking second and third.
Mullins said: “All three horses I ran in the race have not been great jumpers all year, but they have developed their own methods.
“I suppose he could be an English National horse but he might not get in so the Hennessy would be a possible, together with all the long-distance chases.”
Mullins went on to register his sixth win of the meeting as Scotsirish lugged top weight home under Ruby Walsh in the Betfair.com Novice Handicap Chase.
Double Dizzy looked like pushing the British past their five-winner mark when rounding the turn well clear, but Mullins’ 8-1 chance picked him off to collect by four lengths.
Mullins added: “Now he has proved he stays I am looking forward to running him over a longer trip.
“I have always thought he is a Grade One horse so I was hopeful he could carry top weight in a handicap and I look forward to getting him back into Graded company.”
I Hear A Symphony landed another blow for British-trained horses as Tom O’Brien delivered Philip Hobbs’ 10-1 chance with a well-timed run in the Star Best For Racing Coverage Novice Hurdle.
Earlier in the afternoon, John Carr enjoyed the ideal start to day four as White Head (3-1) landed a gamble in the KFM Hunters Chase.
Carr said: “He won a point-to-point here on St Patrick’s Day and given the way he has been working at home I thought he had a great chance.
“I told all of my friends to back him, which is why he was so well supported in the ring.”