Arvika Ligeonniere claims facile Clonmel Oil Chase success
Arvika Ligeonniere got his campaign off to a flying start with a clear-cut success in the Clonmel Oil Chase at the County Tipperary course.
The Willie Mullins-trained eight-year-old took over from the pace-setting Rubi Light before the second-last fence and then saw off the challenge of Toner D'Oudairies.
Ruby Walsh pushed out Rich Ricci's second-season chaser, who was sent off the 4-5 favourite, on the run-in to pull away from the opposition. Texas Jack was third.
Walsh said: "He hadn't really been impressing us at home. His weight was spot on and we got a lot of work into him, but he hadn't been really exciting us so we were a bit dubious.
"Trying to get two and a half miles on his first run back - you are always trying to keep him relaxed without letting him jump as well as he can. When I needed one at the second-last, he put the race to bed.
"He's such a big horse, he was a bit keen and I was trying to keep him settled and make him go closer to the board than maybe he should.
"He's a fair horse and I'd say he learnt from his fall in Leopardstown because he got a leg out today, whereas he didn't there. "There's improvement in him."
Mullins said of the three-and-a-half-length winner: "He handled the track better than I thought. I thought it might have been too small for him.
"He jumped well when he needed to. I'm very happy given his home work and I think he has to improve (for the race). He was staying on the whole way today.
"Plan A was to settle him in behind and with the climb to the first fence that helped him settle.
"At the fence that he missed Ruby didn't want to take the stride that was there because he didn't want to get to the front.
"Today was the first indication that he'll get more than two and a half miles and the first time he's settled.
"I was finding it hard to place him. He prefers going right-handed, but I wouldn't mind entering him to go left-handed."
Paddy Power gave Arvika Ligeonnierre a quote of 10-1 for the Ryanair Chase, while Betfred trimmed him to 20-1 from 25s for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.