Cabaret Queen spearheaded a fruitful afternoon for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend at Limerick as she ran away with the JT McNamara Ladbrokes Munster National Handicap Chase.
The seven-year-old was a reserve for the three-mile event, but sneaked into the field after a couple of horses were taken out and Townend seized the opportunity with both hands.
He was positive from the off on Cabaret Queen (9-1) and she was well clear turning for home, clearing the final obstacle in fine style to win by 13 lengths from Spider Web, with Oscar Knight back in third.
Cabaret Queen is now a 14-1 shot with Paddy Power for the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on November 30.
Townend said: “She jumped like a buck and it means a lot when you can do that around here. She improved again from Listowel and we are learning about her the whole time.
“The ground was an unknown, but she handled it well enough and I got it easy in front.
“She was a good find and I won this race in the past with Treacle (2009).”
Listen Dear had got the Closutton team’s day off to a good start as she ended a long barren spell with victory in the PricewaterhouseCoopers Irish EBF Cailin Alainn Mares Hurdle.
The winner had not hit the target since May 2017, but Townend rode her with plenty of confidence and she cruised home by eight lengths at odds of 14-1.
Townend said: “After doing a circuit while I was still in front I could feel her growing in confidence underneath me. She seemed to have lost her confidence, but that will do her the world of good.
“Going up in trip was something we had to try because it wasn’t working back at two miles and she was able to go that gallop today in her comfort zone.
“The future wasn’t looking bright after her last couple of runs, but she was definitely back to herself there and she likes that ground.”
Darver Star (13-8 favourite) took the other Listed prize, the Ladbrokes Where The Nation Plays Novice Hurdle.
Trained Gavin Cromwell and ridden by Jonathan Moore, Darver Star could now head to Cheltenham following his one-and-a-half-length verdict over Fast Buck.
Cromwell said: “I’m not sure where we go after that, but he could potentially go to Cheltenham in November – we’ll see how he comes out of that.
“He could go up to three miles, but could also go back in trip as well. You’d have to stick to the novice route for the moment the way he is going.”