Burning Victory came out on top from four Willie Mullins-trained runners to make a winning debut over jumps in the Norman Colfer Winning Fair Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
Formerly trained in France by Stephane Wattel, the daughter of Nathaniel holds an entry in the JCB Trimph Hurdle at Cheltenham and gave Mullins something to think about with a pleasing performance in the Grade Three contest.
Van Meegeren led to the second-last flight, where Hook Up took over, but Burning Victory (7-1) burst through under Danny Mullins to lead on the run-in and score by two and a half lengths from Great Bear. Hook Up was two and quarter lengths away in third place.
“I don’t think she jumped particularly well, she made one huge mistake down the back, but she seems to have a bit of natural ability, so that’s nice,” said Mullins.
When asked if it was a surprise result, he added: “Probably, they all are nice horses that work well at home but you don’t know when you bring them to the races what they are going to be like.
“With the ground conditions we said we’d take a chance as they’d be going a bit slower than they would in a normal Grade Three.
“It gave them all a chance and if something happened to win like she did we’d be thinking then, ‘would we put them on the team for Cheltenham’.
“We’ll see how they come out of it or we might just wait for the big race here at Easter. It may be a better plan.”
On the fact that two hold Triumph Hurdle entries, including the winner, he went on: “Their name probably came up in conversation and we put them in the Triumph Hurdle in case.
“I hadn’t really pressed any buttons with them. The four of them are horses that I think will be graded horses in the future.
“I’ll have a chat with the owners. It depends on how she comes out of it, but it (Cheltenham) could be tough on a mare having her second run.”
Burning Victory was cut to 33-1 from 40-1 for the Triumph with Betfair, and 25-1 from 33s with Paddy Power.
Mullins also dominated the finish of the Grade Three Bobbyjo Chase, with Acapella Bourgeois running out a comfortable winner over stablemate Bellshill.
Stable jockey Paul Townend opted to ride the runner-up, leaving Danny Mullins to again take the winning ride.
He was to the fore throughout on Acapella Bourgeois, who galloped on resolutely to the line to triumph by 15 lengths.
Mullins said: “Conditions suited him great today. Very heavy ground and a good test of stamina. He jumped very well.
“He’s in the English and Irish Nationals. There are a lot of connections and they are probably more leaning towards Aintree. I’d imagine at the moment that’s winning the vote in the Carlow camp.
“The weather will play a big part. We’ll have to see what the long range forecast is like.”
He added of Bellshill: “At least he ran today. Paul said he still wasn’t as happy with him as he could be and he thinks there is more improvement to come.
“He won’t go to Cheltenham anyway and the Irish National is a possibility, although he would have a lot of weight in that. Punchestown is another option.”