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.
1 October 2014Tapestry enters Arc picture
Dettori vies for World rule in Arc
Toocool has American dream
Berkshire on the comeback trail
Dettori given Ruler role
Estidhkaar 'on target' for Dewhurst
Australia leads Champions acceptors
Martin outlines Jack ground hopes
Raiding party heads Opera runners
Autumn aim for North
Shamkala sole Arc withdrawal
Force and Power top Abbaye list
Cadeaux team mull Caulfield date
Limato set for Redcar speed test
Cape set for Concorde test
Telescope sights set on Breeders'
Power primed to storm Abbaye
Creepy excels on chasing bow
Al Kazeem given Arc go-ahead
Buick makes Ivanhowe Arc link
Martin keen on Clonard
Cirrus heads Longchamp billing
Elite aim for Irving
Ribbons run hinges on Paris ground
Quick on course for Ces date
30 September 2014Power heads Abbaye market
No fitness worries for Lemaire
Beaux plans undecided
Foret-bound Byron enjoys workout
Perfect fencing start for Minstrel
Ted takes Roscommon honours
Rain fillip for Treve Arc challenge
Speed not an issue to River camp
Signal on course to Wow in Paris
Ivawood heads Millions field
Top fillies star in Chariot race
Point primed for Abbaye assignment
29 September 2014Logic ruled out for the season
Ansgar in Foret frame
Kalann team consider Champions bid
Peslier and Mosse hunt Arc mounts
O'Brien trio set for Longchamp
High hopes for Elliott team
Berry takes the rails route
River cruises to Beresford glory
Qualify swoops for O'Brien team
Minstrel ready for chasing bow
Tiggy Abbaye run not set in stone
Angel camp ponder Darley raid
Pineau ripe for new season
Mubtaghaa suited by joy of six
Fiesolana fired up for Foret
28 September 2014Keighley holds Court for Cheltenham
Mart makes Newland's day
Spin does the trick at Ripon
Angel heaven-sent for Tregoning
Tiggy takes Cheveley gold
Lodge proves a stroll in Park
Rosalie blossoms for hat-trick
Naylor seeking Paris prize
Integral on course for Chariot
Dettori anticipating 'vintage' Arc