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.
10 March 2014Que takes aim at Festival landmark
Irving strives to rule Supreme
Clouds lined up for RSA
Gold hopes fading for Topper
Champagne in sparkling form
Sire spearheads Queen Mother entry
Ruby ready to Rock
Confidence behind Conor
Special One bids for Champion glory
Suspensory problem sidelines Chris
Mullins 'very happy' with Fly
Cooper raring to go after fall
National glee for supersub Mullins
Francome fancies New One revenge
Quinn targets another Triumph
Buck's primed for World title bid
Cheltenham team monitor ground
Fenton delays Instalment call
Activial to duck Festival mission
Hope springs eternal for Encore
Fab Fly takes on eight in Champion
9 March 2014Fall leaves Cooper 'badly winded'
Cooper warms up with double
Cooper warms up with double
Avenue roads lead to Irish Oaks
Dude's the main man
Top trainers reject watering
Hinterland takes Champion test
Baltimore sets up bonus bid
Warrior wins Trial battle
Fallon hits Meydan heights
Chartreux bounces back to best
Brave Vic has Final word
Soumillon strikes on super Shea
On His Own joins Gold Cup field
8 March 2014Queally hits Sandown target
Briar tops Bartlett contenders
Calipto leads Triumph hopefuls
Ginge fires burn brightly for Neild
Creek forced out of Gold Cup
Milan targeting Final glory
McCoy to miss Sunday and Monday
Exchange rate pays dividend
Temps doubtful for Festival
Conor settles in at Cheltenham
De Bromhead sweet on Special
Epsom to honour St Nick
Mullins dominates JLT entries
Al and Dynaste top Ryanair field
Big two lead World possibles
7 March 2014Lockinge target for Tonto
All set for a super Saturday
Silver aiming to shine
Imperial only thought for Honeyball
Distance fears for Highland
Montiridge preps for Dubai trip
Ayr gets go-ahead
Ayr delay inspection decision
Benbulben misses Cheltenham
Card 'gut wrencher' for Tizzard
Guard stands tall for new record
Faugheen looms over Neptune field
Ballycasey stands firm in RSA
Sire spearheads Queen Mother list
Australia still in Derby shake-up
Henderson perfectly happy with Tent
Regal leads the way in Imperial