Mullins unveils yet another Festival hopeful
Champion trainer Willie Mullins got off the mark for 2016 when Sambremont continued his education over fences in the Irish Racing Year Book Beginners' Chase at Fairyhouse.
Just useful as a novice hurdler, the full-brother to Gold Cup runner-up Djakadam looks like taking a much higher order over fences, getting off the mark at the third time of asking after a couple of seconds.
Ridden by Ruby Walsh, Sambremont made all for a 16-length win over Mydor as the 4/5 favourite.
Mullins said: "He jumped fantastically. He'll probably have to go up in grade now and if he does he'll probably go up in trip as well. He'll get an entry in the four-miler (National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham) and we'll see what he does between now and then. He was very sure-footed there and I think four miles will be no problem to him. We'll try and get another run into him."
The win was Mullins' 15th from 47 runners since St Stephen's Day.
The biggest pot of the day went to the Paddy Rooney-trained Witness Of Fashion which followed up his St Stephen's Day win at Down Royal by landing the BoyleSports Irish Grand National March 28th Handicap Chase under jockey Danny Mullins.
Despite losing his whip, Mullins produced Witness Of Fashion to lead on the run-in for a narrow win over Unic De Bersy.
"He's a tough horse and that's three times (he has run) in two weeks and it's a fair testament to the horse," said Rooney.
"He'll get a bit of a break now - I think he deserves it. I'll see what is coming up at the end of the month or the beginning of February. We'll maybe look at the National Trial at Punchestown."
Dermot Weld looks to have another high-class prospect on his hands after Dont Tell No One defied an absence of 883 days in the Happy New Year Maiden Hurdle.
The son of Westerner created a favourable impression when readily brushing aside a couple of smart performers in landing a Galway bumper on his racecourse debut back in 2013 but has been kept off the track with various problems since.
Nevertheless, he was sent off a 4/1 chance to make a winning start over hurdles and was always travelling well in the hands of Davy Russell, patiently waited with in the early exchanges before coming through to lead after the penultimate flight.
Weld said afterwards: "That's a very pleasant start. He had been schooling well at home and I thought he'd be hard to beat. It's a nice start to the New Year.
"He's had his problems but has a lot of ability and it's onwards and upwards now. He'll go for a winners of one. He stays very well and we'll look for something over two-and-a-half to three miles."
Cashelard Lady (15/8 fav) she made the perfect start to her career over hurdles when scoring by 39 lengths in the Promote Your Business At Fairyhouse in 2016 Mares Maiden Hurdle.
The six-year-old was sent to the front as soon as the tapes went up and never saw a rival from that point, gradually building up a sizeable lead which only increased the further she went.
Cross-Channel, Seeyouatmidnight produced a brave front-running display to win the BetBright #realfansonly Novices' Chase at Cheltenham.
At a time when the fragile state of jump racing in the north of England has been well documented, the eight-year-old gave the racing fraternity in that part of the country a timely boost when taking his form to new heights with victory in the Grade Two contest, better known as the 'Dipper'.
Jumping with real enthusiasm on his favoured soft surface, the Sandy Thomson-trained gelding gradually saw his rivals fall by the wayside in the two-mile-five-furlong prize, with Blaklion the only horse able to keep in touch and mount a serious challenge turning for home.
Needing a good jump at the last, the 7/2 winner produced just that and then pulled away for a three-and-a-quarter-length victory.
Seeyouatmidnight was trimmed from 25-1 into 16-1 for the RSA Chase by both Paddy Power and BetVictor.
Thomson said: "It was brilliant. When I heard the ground had gone heavy I was delighted. You saw probably the two horses that stayed best fight out the finish.
"From the first time he jumped at Hexham he has always jumped brilliantly and even in the World Hurdle for a horse with little experience he was very good.
"It's absolutely great for us and the north. The situation isn't as bleak as some make out, but we need good horses. They've all gone south because the owners have gone south.