Don Poli hangs on to break Willie Mullins' hoodoo at Leopardstown
Don Poli finally broke Willie Mullins' hoodoo in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown.
Despite his domination of Irish National Hunt racing, Mullins had never won the Christmas highlight, but also saddled On His Own and Sir Des Champs in the six-runner field.
On His Own cut out much of the running with the help of Foxrock, but Don Poli closed right up on that pair approaching the final fence.
But as On His Own weakened and Don Poli forged ahead, the popular veteran First Lieutenant began to stay on powerfully in the hands of Davy Russell.
Running in the race for the fourth time, it briefly looked as if he might catch the 4-6 favourite but the line came just in time for Bryan Cooper's mount, who held on by half a length.
Paddy Power were not impressed and pushed Don Poli out to 6-1 (from 4s) for the Gold Cup.
A stewards' inquiry was called into possible interference between Don Poli and Foxrock but the placings remained unaltered.
Mullins said: "He always just does what he has to do and in those conditions things are very tough.
"He probably got a bit tired but when the others came to him kept pulling it out.
"It's hard to know how good he is and how much more he has to produce but I was very happy.
"Bryan said he thought he was in trouble going to the last but he picked up again when they came and went on again."