Paul Townend timed it to perfection to get Blackstairmountain back to winning ways in the McCarthy Insurance Group Hurdle at Cork.
A Grade One winner over timber as a novice, he also reached the same heights over fences last season but tends to struggle against the best when the mud is flying, so Willie Mullins is now eyeing up a race in Japan.
Fosters Cross made sure it was a real test and Davy Condon was allowed an easy lead in front with his advantage still around 10 lengths turning into the long home straight, but Blackstairmountain (4-7 favourite) collared him on the run-in and held off Arnaud by three-quarters of a length.
Mullins said: "We'll keep it to those type of races with him until the ground gets better. We're going to aim him at the Nakayama Grand Jump in Japan in April. The ground conditions over there will suit him and he's a Grade One horse. He's the only one I have for the race, although it will be costly to send him."
The trainer was also on the mark in the McCarthy Insurance Group Maiden Hurdle with Midnight Oil (evens favourite). With Luca Cumani on the Flat, he had been outclassed in his previous two races but coasted home under Davy Russell.
Mullins said: "We decided to ride him more positively today and he enjoyed it better. He should improve more when the ground is drier. If he does improve on better ground, which I think he will, he'll step back up to Graded company. He's a grand, big, jumping type of horse and the ground is key to him."
The stable made it a treble when Terminal (1-2 favourite) eventually wore down A Fine Young Man in the McCarthy Insurance Group Beginners' Chase.
An almighty touch was landed by Sabrina Harty's Dalasiri in the McCarthy Insurance Group Maiden Hurdle for four-year-olds, the grey having been backed from a morning price of 33-1 into just 9-2 on-course.
Sent to the front four from home by Andrew Lynch, the Aga Khan-bred showed far more than on his previous start at Christmas and sprinted clear to win from Spot The Pro by 11 lengths.
Harty said: "We felt at home that he had a good turn of foot and we dropped him in at Leopardstown. He was just staying on when he made two mistakes. But his jumping is as slick as you get. I ride him myself and schooled him as well. Today was the plan but he should make a nice dual purpose horse."
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22 May 2015Paris in Sandown shake-up
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