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.
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