On His Own makes it famous five for Mullins
WILLIE Mullins has further enhanced his status as the most decorated Irish jumps trainer of modern times by emulating his legendary predecessor Tom Dreaper with a fifth Goffs Thyestes Chase triumph courtesy of his returning 2012 hero On His Own.
As a Kilkenny man, the perennial champion has a special affection for the €100,000 Gowran Park feature, which was run in front of an enormous crowd.
Mullins, who completed a sparkling treble on the card, pinpointed the prestigious handicap for four members of his Co Carlow-based juggernaut, with Paul Townend enjoying a first success in the race aboard On His Own after Mullins advised Ruby Walsh to partner Vesper Bell.
As ever, the 2011 champion jockey seized his opportunity with aplomb. He led from flag-fall on his game 10-year-old partner, which galloped and jumped with tremendous zeal.
The well-backed 5/1 favourite Los Amigos, seeking a third Thyestes win for Dreaper's son Jim, was one of a few that tried to challenge from the top of the straight. Fittingly, on this historic occasion, he kept on for second, but On His Own was in a league of his own.
Returned at odds of 12/1, the winner zig-zagged his way up across the track as they crossed the final two fences.
However, his wayward tendency didn't even prompt a stewards' inquiry as he drew readily clear for a six-length rout under 11st 6lbs.
"It was a great ride from Paul and a good performance under that weight," Mullins said of On His Own, a sixth repeat Thyestes victor.
"It's tremendous to be mentioned in the same breath as Tom Dreaper and it's always an honour to win the race – especially with its pot!"
A faller in two Grand National outings, On His Own was left at 33/1 for Aintree glory with Boylesports, though Paddy Power trimmed him to 20/1, possibly acknowledging that he put in a clear round over the altered fences in December's Becher Chase.
"The plan is to go back to Aintree, but we said we wouldn't mind him for it this year," Mullins added.
"That might have been his big pay day for the year now."
Walsh was magnanimous in defeat after Vesper Bell failed to land a blow in ninth – "that's why Willie's second job is a good one" – and Townend explained that he had been trying to keep On His Own out of the worst ground on the inner in the straight when his mount undermined his intentions by fencing to his right.
"He gave me a great spin," the Cork-born rider said.
"We had one miscommunication four-out, but he winged fences apart from that."
Robert Tyner's Oscars Business short-headed Mullins' Balnaslow for third after getting in as first reserve.
Earlier, Walsh chose correctly in the Nugent Spirit 25 Horsebox Hurdle, with the Archie O'Leary-owned Abbyssial (2/9 fav) making it two from two since his arrival from France at the expense of the Townend-ridden Noble Inn.
The strapping four-year-old son of Beneficial galloped relentlessly in the deep ground for a fine pillar-to-post win.
"He is precocious enough for a horse of his size, so I am happy that he is doing what he is doing as he won't come into his own until he goes over fences," Mullins said of Abbyssial, which could skip Cheltenham ahead of a possible French foray later in the season.
In the bumper, his son Patrick completed the stable's 28/1 hat-trick aboard the odds-on Black Hercules in On His Own's Graham Wylie silks.
In the Grade Two Galmoy Hurdle, Mullins odds-on favourite Zaidpour misfired completely.
Mala Beach, third to Zaidpour in Grade One company at Leopardstown over Christmas, took full advantage, reeling in long-time leader Un Beau Matin between the last two flights to give his rider Robbie Colgan a career-best 15th winner of the campaign.
"He is a chaser in the making," Gordon Elliott said of the 100/30 winner, which finished eight lengths clear of stable-mate Un Beau Matin. "He loves plenty of cut so the World Hurdle would only come into the equation if it happened to come up soft at Cheltenham."
Mikey Butler, whose brother Johnny saddled Low Key to anchor the four-legged Barney Curley-style coup on Wednesday, edged the maiden hurdle on Eoin Doyle's The Winkler (7/1/ into 5/1).
Tom Foley's resurgent stable also got among the winners. Backed from 7/1 into 4/1, Foley's Never Enough Time duly made a mockery of his rating by routing the field in the Martinstown Hurdle that his famously shrewd owner JP McManus sponsors.