Last year’s winner Pairofbrowneyes led home a one-two-three for Willie Mullins in the Toalsbet Bookmakers Leinster National at Naas.
The 100,000 euro handicap was rescheduled to be run at Gowran Park last season and Pairofbrowneyes provided the champion trainer with his third victory in the last 10 runnings on his debut for the yard.
He fell at the fifth fence when favourite for the Irish Grand National on his next start and having been well beaten on each of his two outings this season – in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown and the Thyestes Chase at Gowran – he was a 12-1 shot for his latest assignment.
After being settled in midfield for much of the three-mile contest by Paul Townend, Pairofbrowneyes crept into contention racing down the back straight the second time and jumped to the front at the second fence from the finish.
The 10-year-old soon took command, kicking clear on the run-in to score by five lengths from stablemate Isleofhopendreams, ahead of the other Mullins runner – Bellow Mome (10-1) – in third.
Mullins and Townend were completing a double on the card, with the long-absent Chacun Pour Soi having earlier justified his prohibitive odds with a facile success in the Toalsbet.com Beginners Chase.
Making his first appearance for the Closutton team – having been off the track for almost three years – the 4-9 favourite produced a foot-perfect round of jumping under Paul Townend and came home 31 lengths clear Portmore Lough.
“He’s very likeable. It was like riding a handicapper. He made one mistake at the ditch down the back, but he sorted himself out and you couldn’t be any more pleased with him,” said Townend.
“He had a big reputation coming to us, but they don’t always live up to that.
“He’s really exciting.”
Kaiser Black proved his excellent run at Leopardstown last month was no fluke with an impressive victory in the Naas Directors Plate Novice Chase.
After registering successive handicap wins in the Mayo National at Ballinrobe and the Connacht National at Roscommon in May and June of last year, the eight-year-old stepped up to Grade One level on his return from eight months off the track in the Flogas Novice Chase.
Pat Doyle’s charge ran a fantastic race in defeat to fill the runner-up spot behind star mare La Bague Au Roi – having briefly looked like causing an upset – and was a 15-8 chance after having his sights lowered for this Grade Three assignment.
Prolific mare and 6-4 favourite Camelia De Cotte cut out much of the running and remained in front rounding the home turn.
However, Kaiser Black and Jack Doyle asserted between the final two fences and ultimately won with plenty in hand by 11 lengths.
“He was always travelling well and he jumped super – he kept gaining a length in the air,” said the winning rider.
“He wasn’t mad about the ground today – it’s probably as soft as he would handle it. He won very well in the end.
“I leave the plans up to my father. The Irish National was the plan, but he’s probably going to be too high in the handicap now. We’ll get him home and see how he is.
“We were thinking maybe the Irish National before going to Punchestown – looking for a bit of nice ground at the end of the season.”
Gallant John Joe got back on the winning trail with a determined display in the Irish Racing Writers Kingsfurze Novice Hurdle.
Having finished third at Grade One level at last month’s Dublin Racing Festival, Oliver McKiernan’s charge was a 4-1 shot dropping down in class for this two-mile Listed contest.
Barry Browne’s mount struck the front on the run to the final flight and while the strong-travelling Mister Blue Sky finished strongly, Gallant John Joe had enough in reserve to hold him at bay by half a length.
McKiernan said: “That’s great. The race was on the short side for us and we were on the wrong side of the weights with a couple of them.
“We always thought he could do it, but he has to go and do it. I’m mad happy.
“I’m not sure what the plan is and will have to talk to the syndicate. They were asking if he could go to Aintree, but I’m not sure as he’s a handful to get to the start relaxed.”
There was a thrilling climax to the opening Adare Manor Opportunity Maiden Hurdle – with the Alan Fleming-trained 20-1 shot Espanito Bello lunging late to claim top honours under Conor McNamara.
Fleming and owner Barry Connell doubled up with 4-1 shot Mount Pelier in the Naas Supporters Handicap Hurdle – with Donagh Meyler the winning pilot.
Peter Fahey’s Gypsy Island obliged as the 10-11 favourite in the concluding mares’ bumper.