Perfect 10 for fabulous Faugheen at Punchestown
Faugheen lived up to the hype with a flawless display in the Queally Group Celebrating 35 Years In Naas Punchestown Champion Hurdle.
The seven-year-old took his record to a perfect 10 out of 10, to give Willie Mullins yet another Grade One winner.
Ruby Walsh was allowed to dictate matters at his own pace and did not appear to be going much of a gallop until quickening the tempo four from home.
Arctic Fire and Paul Townend loomed up coming out of the back straight, but as soon as Walsh gave Faugheen (1/6 favourite) a squeeze, the response was immediate and the race was over.
"That was a good performance. Ruby didn't hang around and kept applying the pressure from the front. It was a gutsy ride," said Mullins. "He's done it now in year one and we'll let him tell us how good he can be. Our Conor looked invincible when he won the Triumph, but fate can go against you.
"I believe in him, but he has to stand the test of time. He's very, very good. We'll see now if the handicapper puts him past Hurricane Fly."
Nichols Canyon made it a Grade One double on the day for Mullins and Walsh, justifying 4/5 favouritism in the Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle.
Just like Faugheen, he made all the running and powered seven lengths clear of Alpha Des Obeaux as he landed his fourth Grade One of the season for owner Graham Wylie.
Blood Cotil was another winner for Mullins as Paul Townend drove the 11/1 shot to see off the game Irish Cavalier.
Nicky Henderson bagged a winner as Mark Walsh produced Snake Eyes (9/2) to perfection in the two-mile novice hurdle, while Luke Dempsey again advertised his skills when winning on the Gavin Cromwell-trained Mallards In Flight (8/1) in the Glencarraig Lady Mares Handicap Chase.
In the finale, Enda Bolger's On The Fringe completed the Festivals hunter chase clean-sweep under a confident Nina Carberry.
After comfortable wins in Cheltenham and Aintree Foxhunters, the JP McManus gelding was sent off 4/11 favourite and was kept up to his work to hold Noble Prince by a length.