Pont Alexandre stamped himself a potential star in running out an all-the-way winner of the feature Grade One event at Navan on an afternoon when Ruby Walsh dominated with four victories.
Having had just one win in a maiden hurdle in France, the Willie Mullins-trained Pont Alexandre came into the Navan Novice Hurdle as something of an unknown quantity, and Walsh set out to make every yard on the 3-1 chance.
The winner never saw another rival and odds-on favourite Don Cossack, who did not jump that well, was in the process of being caught for second by Busty Brown when he came down after the final flight. It was Davy Russell's third fall in three successive races and he gave up the rest of his rides.
Mullins, recording his 100th victory of the season, was landing his third win in the race in five years after Mikael D'Haguenet and Boston Bob, and Pont Alexandre was inserted as the new 6-1 favourite for the Neptune Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham by Paddy Power.
Walsh said: "He was doing things nicely at home, but you always have a little worry about them having their first run over these hurdles. Having not run for so long, it was always going to be a worry going in a Grade One. It was a good performance and he'll be a lovely chaser."
Mullins added: "He could be anything, he's a horse I love. I saw him in France in the summer and I rang my client and said to Rich (Ricci) I think I want to buy this horse.
"He wasn't exactly catching pigeons on the gallops, but in the last month when the ground got heavy he started to show me a bit. He did one bit of work this week that showed me he might be good enough and I took a chance. The winners' races are so good, I thought if Don Cossack beats us then so be it.
"He looks a real nice prospect for the future. I don't think I've ever started one off in a Grade One before. If we'd gone for a Grade Two or Three we would have met the same horses except for Don Cossack, so I just wanted the run out of the way to find out how good he is. He showed us today.
"For a horse having just his second run he jumped like a natural. We won't go back in trip but the Deloitte is two and a quarter (miles), so I might do that. He'll probably stay at two and a half and I wouldn't be afraid of three miles. It will either be the Neptune or the Albert Bartlett in March
"He won't go to Leopardstown. The obvious race would be the Slaney Hurdle at Naas, but I think I want to get Champagne Fever ready for that (same owner), so I might just wait an extra few weeks."
20 October 2014No rushing back for Long Run
Dynaste leads Old Roan contenders
Grands Crus retired
Chelmsford City handed 58 fixtures
Exciting Berlais heads to Chepstow
Force handed Hong Kong mission
Park favourite for Trophy hunt
Al Kazeem team eye Hong Kong trip
Alderwood to take two-mile test
Dynaste leads Old Roan contenders
Commemorative bound for Breeders'
Hennessy aim for Clouds
Slade eyeing victorious swansong
Fiesolana on Breeders' trail
High-class possibilities for Trophy
Chelmsford City handed 57 fixtures
French option for Maarek
Billy back for chasing bow
Judge to bid for Breeders' glory
Pipe mulls Moon target
High hopes for Holywell
Judge in Breeders' frame
Hill stars for Stoute and Moore
Gabriel lifts Garnet for Deegan
New One back with a win
Light career hangs in balance
Stars shines on hurdling debut
King big guns ready to start
Tullius camp consider options
Doyle unlikely to appeal Ascot ban
Mullins prepares formidable team
19 October 2014New One breezes to victory
Lavelle has Becher plan for Lodge
Riches heading on road north
Down Royal plan for Tiger
New makes Kempton return
Panther hunting Canadian prize
Sun takes a shine to Cork
Hobbs upholds Showcase record
Another gold strike for Bronze
Gallant Noble a true Champion
Head turns on Charm in QEII
Madame is Ascot leading lady
Forgotten rules for Weld
Byron is poetry in motion
18 October 2014Forgotten rules for Weld
War misses Breeders' date
Rakti reaps Caulfield reward
Chatez bids for Balmoral crown
Lavelle duo top Cheltenham card
Integral takes on the boys
Noble on Champion mission
Belardo a Dewhurst sparkler
Together stands firm for Ballydoyle
Ivawood felled by plucky Thought
Crowley doubles up on Berkshire
Tendon injury sidelines Tent
17 October 2014Minstrel calls the tune
Sceaux set for chase campaign
Sari seeking Ascot gold
Charm out to show winning Spirit
Estimate aiming to go the Distance
French veteran back for more
O'Meara - G has the Force
Fallon considers American switch
Cossack maintains Elliott's record
Vautour goes chasing
Lucida heads Godolphin trio
McCoy sits out weekend action
No Middle ground for classy Ivawood
Big guns hold sway for QEII
Cirrus stands firm for Champion
Hanagan: Estidhkaar no soft touch