Ace Pittoni makes grade to leap into triumph picture
Pittoni leapt into the picture for the JCB Triumph Hurdle by adding to his debut success over jumps at Punchestown.
The Charlie Byrnes-trained colt followed up his victory over the course and distance three weeks ago with a tidy victory over Doctor Deejay in the Grade Three Visit Punchestown.com Juvenile Hurdle.
The 1/2 favourite was never too far off the pace under Paul Carberry and went on two out to win by a length and three-quarters. He is now priced at 33/1 for Cheltenham's Triumph Hurdle by Paddy Power.
"He did it OK. He is in the Grade One at Leopardstown on February 7 (the Spring Juvenile Hurdle) and we'll know what level he's at after that," said Byrnes. "I told Paul not to let it turn into a sprint and that's why he went on from so far out."
Pittoni ruined the treble hopes of trainer Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh, who had already bagged a double with Mourad and Citizen Vic.
Mourad (9/10) opened his account for the campaign with a convincing victory in the Go Racing In Kildare Hurdle coming home 10 lengths clear of Rubi Light.
"The extra trip helped and he'll be going up in trip for the rest of the season -- two miles four plus," said Mullins. "I have no big plan, he's in the World Hurdle but he'd want to be winning like he did today to justify that."
Citizen Vic (5/1) made all to take the opening April Festival Beginners Chase by five lengths from Corskeagh Royale. "He jumped great in front," said Mullins.
"I'm not quite sure -- Ruby said we should go for a longer trip, I thought we should go for a shorter trip. We'll have to see. He'll run again in a few weeks and we'll see where he fits in with the other novices."
Walsh's sister Katie got in on the act when beating her brother, riding Clear Gold, on Battlefront (10/1), trained by their father Ted, in the Racing UK Handicap Chase.