Mister Blue Sky led home a one-two for Willie Mullins in the Fairyhouse Racecourse Supporting Irish Injured Jockeys Association Novice Hurdle.
The champion trainer had saddled five of the last six winners of the Grade Two contest and this year fire a three-pronged assault – with Ruby Walsh siding with 15-8 favourite Mister Blue Sky.
Walsh was happy to bide his time for much of the two-mile journey, while David Mullins – standing in for the sidelined Paul Townend – cut out the running aboard Mister Blue Sky’s stablemate Cash Back.
The pair pulled clear on the run to the final flight and while Cash Back did not go down without a fight on the run-in, Walsh was at his brilliant best as he got Mister Blue Sky up to score by three-quarters of a length.
“It rode a good race. I thought he’d progressed a bit since Naas, and the runner-up has run a blinder as well,” said the winning rider.
“This fella missed most of the winter as he got a setback after Wexford, and Cash Back was a bit slow to come to hand. I’d imagine they will both go to Punchestown.
“David was better at the last than I was, but I was confident I had the measure of him.”
Mister Blue Sky was a second winner on the card for Mullins and Walsh after landing the opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Maiden Hurdle with 6-4 favourite Great White Shark.
Dommage Pour Toi caused a 33-1 upset in the other Grade Two on the card, the Fairyhouse Easter Festival Novice Hurdle.
The Emmet Mullins-trained Zero Ten was all the rage to notch a fourth successive win as the 5-4 favourite, but after travelling well for a long way, he was unable to reel in Henry de Bromhead’s 33-1 shot Dommage Pour Toi under Rachael Blackmore.
De Bromhead said: “I’m delighted for Hugh (Bleahen, owner). He’s been a great supporter of ours and we bought Sizing Europe and Sizing John from him and have had a lot of luck with him over the years.
“He kept this lad after the store sales and has always liked him. He’s developing all the time, and has progressed a lot from each run.
“He’s very tough and it was a brilliant ride from Rachael as usual.”
He added: “I’d think we’ll have to go to Punchestown, and we can have a look at the two-and-a-half-mile and the three-mile Grade Ones.
“We’ll see how he comes out of this race first, and he’ll go chasing next season.”
Gypsy Island secured her third bumper success with a brilliant display in the Irish EBF Total Enjoyment Mares INH Flat Race.
Peter Fahey’s charge made a big impression on her Ballinrobe introduction last summer, a performance which prompted leading owner JP McManus to snap her up.
She did not get off to the best of starts in the famous green and gold silks – suffering a short-priced defeat on her hurdling debut at Navan in November – but she got back on the winning trail in another bumper at Naas last month to earn her a crack at this Listed prize.
Supporters of the 2-1 favourite will have had few concerns for the duration of the two-mile contest and while her rivals began to toil at the top of the home straight, Gypsy Island was still full of running under an ultra-confident Derek O’Connor.
Once given her head, the five-year-old sprinted clear and passed the post 11 lengths clear of of the Willie Mullins-trained Yukon Lil.
Fahey said: “She’s a lovely filly and is improving with every run. She travelled into it well and they went a nice gallop so Derek was able to switch her off. She arrived there doing handstands.
“I’m delighted after selling her that it’s all worked out. The pressure is off now after winning the last day and even more after today.
“She’s a filly to look forward to next year and she goes on the soft equally as well. She may go for the mares’ bumper at Punchestown.”