Aramon dominates field to claim Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown
Aramon ran out a dominant winner of the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown.
Willie Mullins had saddled four previous winners of the Grade One contest - including each of the last three - and this year had readied a twin assault.
Having finished third behind stablemate Quick Grabim in the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse on his latest outing, Aramon was a 6-1 chance in the hands of Ruby Walsh, with stablemate Sancta Simona a better-fancied 5-2 chance under Barry Geraghty.
Walsh settled Aramon at the rear of the six-strong field for much of the two-mile journey, but was travelling powerfully in behind the leaders rounding the home turn.
Once the gap came, the five-year-old joined Sancta Simona for the lead at the final flight and fairly shot clear on the run-in, coming home with 10 lengths in hand. Tintangle was three lengths further back in third.
Mullins said: "It was a pleasant surprise that he did it in that manner. When Sancta Simona took the lead turning for home, I thought the race was over.
"I could see Ruby coming through, but I didn't think he had that much in the tank. It was unbelievable what he pulled out.
"He obviously likes this ground, it's nice and lively out there.
"Supreme Horse Racing look like they've found a real good horse, which is good for them. There's a good crew of them here.
"He has to go down the Grade One route now. That looks like his trip, on that ground, and it's nice to win a Grade One race for Supreme Racing here."
The win for Walsh made amends for a disappointing showing in the Paddy's Rewards Club "Sugar Paddy" Chase where hot favourite Footpad was shocked by Simply Ned who caused a big upset in defending his crown.
The 11-year-old enjoyed his day in the sun when claiming this prize last season - passing the post narrowly behind the Willie Mullins-trained Min before the result was reversed in the stewards' room - and he was sent off at 16-1 for a repeat.
For much of the two-mile journey everything appeared to be going to plan for market leader Footpad, who jumped accurately under Walsh and swept to the front on the run to the final fence.
He looked to have victory in the bag after setting off up the run-in, but Mark Walsh conjured a late run out of Simply Ned and got up to score by half a length - completing a treble on the day for the winning jockey.