Zaidpour wraps up yet another treble for red-hot Mullins
ZAIDPOUR got his career back on track with a routine victory in the Rock Of Cashel Hurdle at Thurles yesterday.
The French recruit looked destined for the top when winning on his first couple of starts for Willie Mullins, following up a Punchestown maiden hurdle win with a superb performance in the Grade One Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
However, he suffered defeat on his next couple of starts in Ireland and finished down the field when last seen in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Making his seasonal return, the 30/100 favourite faced his easiest task in some time and that was how it proved under Ruby Walsh.
Zaidpour travelled strongly on the bridle throughout and eased clear in the home straight to score by eight lengths from Boland's Corner.
The two-mile-six-and-a-half-furlong contest also saw the re-appearance of last season's Grand National runner-up Oscar Time, which finished fourth of the five runners.
It was Mullins' third winner of the day after Bishopsfurze and Apt Approach had both struck in their respective races.
The champion trainer is continuing a sensational run of form that has seen him saddle 16 winners in the last six Irish jump meetings since last Wednesday, which included a four-timer at Punchestown on Sunday and three trebles.
Of Zaidpour, Mullins said: "It's grand to see him do that over two miles and six furlongs, and he seems to be stronger and happier than he was in the second half of last season.
"He'll probably go next for the Grade Two Tara Hurdle at Navan and will stay hurdling this season.
"I'm not sure which way we will go distance-wise, and it's possible he could still drop back down in trip this season."
Bishopsfurze (7/4) earlier landed the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners' Chase, while 11/10 favourite Apt Approach took the Glen Chase.
"Ruby was very good on him as he hasn't got the reputation for being a fantastic jumper. But he really put it up to him four out and the horse responded," Mullins said of Bishopsfurze.
"He'll probably have to go up in grade now. I'd like to keep him to country tracks, but there are very few winners-of-one races at the country tracks."
Meanwhile, at Newbury, Grands Crus consolidated his status as clear early favourite for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham in March.
Top-class over hurdles, the grey had beaten a stronger field on his chasing debut a fortnight ago. And the way he jumped under Tom Scudamore in the GPG Novices' Chase, before readily seeing off the promising and persistent Sonofvic by two lengths, permits no doubt that he is among the very best in what looks a classy crop overall.
However, he has never looked the sort of brutish slogger that tends to thrive in the RSA and connections could yet drop him back in trip come the Festival.
David Pipe will now ask Grands Crus to point the way forward in a Grade One over the sharp three miles at Kempton on St Stephen's Day.
"I don't think he would have settled like that a year ago," Scudamore said. "He really winged a couple today and landed upsides, but I was always able to drop him back and take a lead again. He was foot-perfect, breathtaking on a couple of occasions.
"When Sonofvic came at us in the straight, it was the quickest he's been over fences -- and what was so pleasing is that he jumped those ones better than any. That shows how he's maturing."