Draconien got Willie Mullins off to a flying start at this year’s Punchestown Festival after springing a surprise in the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle.
The reigning champion trainer has significant ground to make up on rival Gordon Elliott in this year’s title race, but reduced the deficit in the first Grade One contest of the week.
Mullins fielded four of the 10 runners and it was his 11-10 favourite Getabird who cut out much of the running in the hands Paul Townend.
However, he was a spent force from the home turn and was first claimed by Colin Tizzard’s British challenger Vision Des Flos, before 25-1 shot Draconien came through under a confident Noel Fehily to claim victory by two and a quarter lengths.
Vision Des Flos was a clear second, with Elliott’s Mengli Khan best of the rest in third.
Mullins said: “It looked like there was too much pace up the front for Getabird and everyone took him on up. They’ve all paid the penalty and Draconien came through.
“Noel got off him in Fairyhouse and said he wanted to ride him differently and on better ground and that’s exactly what happened today.
“There was so much pace today, there was no pace in Fairyhouse, and that played into his hands and he jumped fantastic as well.”
He added: “He’s a good horse, we thought he was in the beginning and then he lost his way a bit. He’s back to himself again.
“He’ll probably go to grass now or we might actually bring him back to Paris for something like the Prix La Barka.
“We’ll see as he’s not a horse that’s going to take a lot of racing but he has very little racing this year. He could do that or go out for the summer.”