Twin lights up for Willie Mullins treble
The difficult to predict Twinlight earned himself a place among Willie Mullins' formidable team for the Punchestown Festival by getting his season back on track in the Normans Grove Chase at Fairyhouse.
The eight-year-old proved his class with a Grade One success in the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, but has been largely disappointing since, particularly when beaten a long way at Naas in February.
With impressive Naas winner Mallowney the 1-2 favourite to confirm his superiority, Twinlight was a 3-1 shot, but he emphatically turned the tables under Ruby Walsh.
The Mullins runner was sent straight to the lead in the Grade Two contest and his jumping was largely assured.
Mallowney tracked him into the straight, but Twinlight began to assert between the final two fences and was well on top at the finish.
The only other runner, Savello, finished a distant third.
Mullins said: "We ran him in a snaffle with no noseband which may have made a difference, but in fairness he jumped great and the other two didn't jump as well.
"Ruby said he was really enjoying himself and was a different horse than the last day.
"He hasn't missed a beat all season and, as long as the ground is soft, he'll go to Punchestown."
Mullins and Walsh had earlier successfully combined with Upazo (11-4), who made it third time lucky over fences in the Fairyhouse Vets Promoting Equine Health Beginners Chase.
"The ground made a big difference, and he jumped great today. He seems to have improved," said Walsh.
And it was a treble for Mullins when son Patrick guided even-money favourite An Dearg Mor to victory in the bumper.
There was no fairytale ending for Tony McCoy on what was likely his last ever ride in Ireland as Galway Hurdle hero Thomas Edison finished well-beaten in the Farmhouse Foods Handicap Hurdle.
Making his first appearance since his day in the sun in Ballybrit last July, Tony Martin's charge travelled well for a long way before weakening from the home turn.
Clondaw Warrior looked set to provide Willie Mullins with yet another winner when going clear after the final flight, but he was reeled in on the run-in by the Tom Mullins-trained Some Article (20-1), who got up by a neck.
The latter said said: "He's had his troubles and if he'd stayed out of Naas he wouldn't have been the price he was. He's run two stinkers there and won't be going there again.
"He won the Goffs Land Rover bumper a few years ago and the drying ground helped today. More than likely he'll go chasing next year.
"If he comes out of this OK he could go to Punchestown but we won't be greedy. He should make a nice chaser as he's a big, strong horse."
Joseph O'Brien's wait for a winner over jumps goes on.
The dual champion jockey was riding the weakening Draco when he came to grief at the final flight.
O'Brien walked away none the worse.
Jimmy Two Times edged ahead after a thrilling three-way finish to the INH Stallion Owners European Breeders Fund Novice Handicap Hurdle Series Final.
The 7-1 shot had both heavily supported favourite Pleasant Company and Fine Article for company after the final flight, but Brian Hamilton's charge found most for pressure under Declan Lavery to take the prize by a neck.
Hamilton said: "Believe it or not that was always the plan. The three miles is right up his street and all he does is stay.
"If the ground is not too quick he could go to Punchestown but we'll have to see how he comes out of this. I think he'll improve for another year as he's still immature."
Johnny Burke steered 9-1 shot Mr Goodenough to a comprehensive success in the Boylesports Handicap Chase for owner-trainer John Robinson.
Robinson said: "I think there are a few more races in him. I'm not sure if he'll get into anything at Punchestown."
Eugene O'Sullivan saddled a one-two in the Emerald Contract Cleaning Hunters Chase, with Drawn N Drank (10-1) leading home stablemate Cork Citizen.
O'Sullivan said: "They are two nice horses with a hunter chase future. The winner was a bit fresher having not gone to Cheltenham."