Pont Alexandre looks a future star for trainer Willie Mullins after he ran out a mightily impressive winner of the Synergy Security Solutions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown.
On a day when stablemate Hurricane Fly stole the show in the BHP Irish Champion Hurdle, Pont Alexandre confirmed his arrival on the scene with a stylish display as part of a four-timer for the trainer.
He had looked a bit special with a highly convincing successful first run for Mullins and owner Rich Ricci in a Grade One at Navan last month and the five-year-old reinforced that impression when making all the running in the pouring rain under Ruby Walsh.
The 4-7 shot was never challenged and pulled away in the straight for an 11-length romp over Sizing Gold, with Our Vinnie third. It was a performance that had Cheltenham written all over it.
Mullins said: "It was a huge performance to make all in that ground and in that weather and to burn off the horses behind him. He just destroyed them with that good jump at the second-last. I'm looking forward to going to Cheltenham with him, but what I'm really looking forward to is sending him over fences.
"Ballycasey (the winner's stablemate) looks like he might go for the Albert Bartlett, while Pont Alexandre seems to have plenty of speed and will go for the Neptune." Paddy Power slashed him to 3-1 favourite from 6-1, while William Hill went 5-1 from 7s.
Mullins also struck with 'second string' Glens Melody (9-2) in the Frank Ward Solicitors Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle, with stablemate Zuzka (2-5 favourite) only third. Walsh was on the wrong one as Paul Townend produced Glens Melody to lead at the last and power away to win by four and a half lengths.
"We decided to ride her more positively today and it seems to have worked. We'll keep her to those mares' races and she'd have no problem over two and a half miles," said Mullins.
The trainer completed his four-timer when Rupert Lamb (5-2) made all to give Walsh a treble in the Leopardstown Beginners Chase, but the stable had an odds-on reverse when Jim Culloty's Legal Exit (12-1) foiled hotpot Urano in the Frank Conroy Memorial Maiden Hurdle, Barry Geraghty's mount winning by four lengths.
Tony McCoy got on the scoresheet with a last-gasp triumph on Competitive Edge (100-30 favourite), who beat Quartetto by a head in the Sandyford Handicap Chase for trainer Conor O'Dwyer.
27 May 2016Royal Ascot beckons for Nasimi following Haydock triumph for Charlie Appleby
Michael O'Callaghan considers Royal Ascot for Naas-bound Spy Ring
Ed Walker sets his sights on France with Stormy Antarctic
Martyn Meade sweet on Aclaim at Naas
Ed Dunlop has Goodwood aim for Gold Cup hero Trip To Paris
Mark Johnston retains faith in Buratino ahead of Haydock return
Godolphin's Brave buy out to strike at Haydock
John Gosden pinning his hopes on Journey at Haydock
Ann Duffield hoping Rainbow emerges from the Mist at Beverley
David Nicholls 'strenuously denies' sexual assault charges
Mark Johnston hoping for Hilary Needler repeat with Boater
Plausible excuse emerges for Intilaaq's Sandown no-show
Ann Duffield hoping Rainbow emerges from the Mist at Beverley
Roger Charlton tempted by French Derby for Imperial Aviator
Henry Candy expects bold show from Twilight Son at Royal Ascot
German Guineas winner Knife Edge has Prix Jean Prat option
Zonderland flies home in Heron Stakes at Sandown
Time scores top marks in Brigadier Gerard Test at Sandown
Pallasator blows away Dynamite in Henry II victory at Sandown
Global claims Sandown Applause with National success
Tepin facing crucial spin ahead of her planned Royal Ascot trip
Tullius team set to apply blinkers as he bids for Diomed glory at Epsom
Henry Candy pointing towards Queen Anne with Limato
Frankie Dettori reveals 'pressure' ahead of Derby date with Wings Of Desire
26 May 2016Yarmouth given the go-ahead to resume racing following track troubles
Joe Tuite planning autumn campaign for Litigant following a setback
Northumberland Plate bid on Ballynanty agenda
More injury woe for Sammy Jo Bell after Carlisle fall
Hugo Palmer plays down Frankel colt chances at Haydock
Harry Dunlop sets Robin Of Navan 'massive test' in French Derby
Clive Cox ponders next move for My Dream Boat
Gershwin set to miss Epsom and wait for Royal Ascot
Winners keep flowing for Adrian Keatley in wake of Classic success
Curragh winner Van Der Decken has Royal Ascot option
Zonderland bids to build on Guineas sixth at Sandown
Speedy Mehmas on National service at Sandown
High-class entries for Sussex Stakes
Sammy Jo Bell facing further injury setback
Max Dynamite set for power-packed return at Sandown
Roger Charlton hoping Time can pass Brigadier Gerard Test
25 May 2016Karl Burke delighted with Felix Leiter strike at Lingfield
French Derby set to be next challenge for Zarak
Michael Halford on weather watch ahead of Anamba Naas outing
Tryster on course for Prince of Wales's date at Royal Ascot
Queen Anne at Royal Ascot on Ervedya agenda
Paddy Payne hoping sister Michelle will consider riding retirement
Jim Best guilty verdict quashed and rehearing announced by appeal board
Found back in hunt for Coronation Cup at Epsom
Jonathan Portman celebrates Wolverhampton win with Ickymasho
Trials take place at Yarmouth ahead of return to racing action
Andrew Thornton happy to put in the miles as landmark looms
A Shin Hikari dazzles for Japan in Prix d'Ispahan at Chantilly
Godolphin set to add Goodwood winner Skiffle into Oaks mix
Wings Of Desire delights John Gosden in Epsom workout
Kieren Fallon set for Sir Michael Stoute Derby reunion with Across The Stars
24 May 2016Found ruled out of Coronation Cup date
Max Dynamite tops Henry II field at Sandown for Willie Mullins
Time takes Brigadier Gerard Test at Sandown
John O'Shea keeping Royal Ascot options open for Holler
Owen Burrows set sights on Royal Ascot with Muntazah
Michelle Payne ruled out of Royal Ascot following abdominal surgery
Royal Ascot could be next for The Tin Man following impressive Windsor victory
Classic ace Adrian Keatley keeps up the good work with Millefiori at Ayr
Ken Condon sets long-term sights on Champion Stakes targets with Success Days
Delight for Sir Mark Prescott as Time Warp strikes in France
Erica Bing set to go Trophy hunting for Jo Hughes at Beverley
Gifted Master stars in high-class entry for Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock
Massaat pointing to Epsom but French Derby remains an option
Clive Cox keeps faith in Royal Ascot-bound Kodi Bear
Joy of six appeals to Profitable and Clive Cox
Adrian Keatley ponders transatlantic adventure with Jet Setting