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Gigginstown's year ends on high with Don Poli

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Jockey Bryan Cooper holds up the winners trophy after he rode Don Poli to win the Topaz Novice Steeplechase. Leopardstown Christmas Festival, Leopardstown

Jockey Bryan Cooper holds up the winners trophy after he rode Don Poli to win the Topaz Novice Steeplechase. Leopardstown Christmas Festival, Leopardstown

Jockey Bryan Cooper holds up the winners trophy after he rode Don Poli to win the Topaz Novice Steeplechase. Leopardstown Christmas Festival, Leopardstown

Willie MULLINS had an up and down sort of week but there were certainly no real low points for Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud who capped a memorable year with the Mullins-trained Don Poli claiming a cracking renewal of the Grade One Topaz Novice Chase.

At one stage it looked as though we'd be looking for a new home for the race as frost threatened to force the cancellation of both chases on the card but good work from all concerned saw the opening chase move to after the bumper and the Topaz got the green-light just over half an hour before it's start time.

In a race that featured a lot of promising staying novice chasers it came down to Don Poli and Apache Stronghold to battle it out and although the latter looked to be going best approaching the final fence, it was Bryan Cooper and Don Poli that had most in reserve and were going away at the finish.

"I think he could be a Gold Cup horse," Mullins suggested for the future.

Mullins had previously earmarked the four-miler for Don Poli who claimed the Martin Pipe Conditional Race at the Festival last season but nothing is set in stone according to the trainer.

IMAGINE

"He will probably have one more run somewhere but I was saving Valseur Lido for the Dr PJ Moriarty and I don't imagine them taking each other on.

"He'll get an entry in all the novices at Cheltenham and we'll talk to Mr O'Leary who has a lot of horses for those races." Dermot Weld enjoyed a double on the card with the Davy Russell ridden Windsor Park making a winning start over hurdles in the first race and Vigil taking the bumper under Finny Maguire.

Weld expects plenty of improvement from both and nominated a winners race over 2m4f minimum for Windsor Park while Vigil will now be geared back for a second crack at the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham in which he was fifth last season behind stable companion Silver Concorde.


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