Stormy Ireland produced an exemplary front-running performance to win the Listed Frontline Security Grabel Mares Hurdle at Punchestown for the second year in succession.
Paul Townend had Willie Mullins’ five-year-old in a comfortable lead throughout – and although the pack closed a little into the straight, the 1-3 favourite eased clear again before putting in a memorable leap at the last flight en route to victory.
Her closest pursuer for much of the race was stablemate Eglantine Du Seuil, a Cheltenham Festival winner for the same owners Sullivan Blooodstock Limited.
But Black Tears stayed on best of the rest to be second, at a respectful four-length distance behind the classy winner.
Mullins said: “She did it well and the conditions of the race suited her. She jumped very big because she had been schooling over fences.
“She jumps well over fences, as even though she is not a big mare she has great scope. We’ll have a chat with connections and see if we go down that route.
“A lot of my jockeys at home want to go chasing with her because she’s such a good jumper, but the owner also has Laurina going over fences and maybe one mare might be enough for him to go chasing, so that’s in the balance for the moment.”
Former Grade One-winning hurdler Yanworth made an instant success of his new career as a cross-country exponent in the EMS Copiers Risk Of Thunder Chase.
On just his second start for Enda Bolger, he upheld his trainer’s remarkable domination of the race by delivering his seventh victory in the last eight runnings.
After Yanworth had pounced to lead at the last fence under Mark Walsh and win by a length and a half from Neverushacon as the 5-6 favourite in JP McManus’ famous colours, Bolger revealed the nine-year-old was running here only after initially travelling to Cheltenham this weekend.
Bolger was dissuaded from staying put in Gloucestershire by the deluge of rain which resulted in the abandonment of Friday’s card and ended up delaying the cross-country chase there by two days.
He said: “He had a small disadvantage, because he went to Cheltenham on Wednesday and he got back on Friday evening.
“I was just scared when we were in Cheltenham with the amount of rain and whether the cross country would go ahead or not.”
Instead, Yanworth returned to his new home – and booked himself another trip to Cheltenham next month.
“It’s his first time around here, and he should improve a lot,” added Bolger.
“It’s a good while since he won a race and you never really know if they will take to this until you run them.
“He jumped well and had his ears pricked coming up the straight.
“It was a proper race and was no cake walk.
“He’ll probably go to Cheltenham in December. The fact that is a handicap (means) he might struggle – but we are trying to make him for the spring race in Cheltenham, which is a conditions race.
There was to be no second successive winning favourite for McManus, as Pasley came up just short on his jumps debut behind Sacchoandvanzetti in the Nally Bros Hyundai Supporting Longford GAA 3-Y-O Hurdle.
Joseph O’Brien’s juvenile challenged at the last but could never get past the determined 13-2 winner, who stayed on strongly to win a length and three-quarters for jockey Jody McGarvey and trainer John Queally.
Queally said: “He’s professional and it’s nice to win two before the good ones come out. We might go to Doncaster next month (Grade Two Summit Juvenile Hurdle on December 14).
“He doesn’t mind cut in the ground.”
Walsh and McManus completed their double with Pat Fahy’s Drop The Anchor when the 2-1 joint-favourite got the better of a brief duel with Scheu Time to win the Irish Daily Mirror Handicap Hurdle by two and a half lengths.