Defy Logic leaves Champagne on ice
Nolan beaming after Leopardstown double
PAUL NOLAN enjoyed a Leopardstown afternoon "up there with my best days" as the bold-jumping Defy Logic headlined a double for the popular trainer with victory in the Racing Post Novice Chase.
Champion Bumper and Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner Champagne Fever was all the rage for the Grade One feature, looking to cement his place as Arkle favourite following his chasing bow at Punchestown last month.
The 8/15 favourite jumped smartly in the main in the hands of Ruby Walsh, but 7/2 shot Defy Logic matched him all the way as the two engaged in a real tussle for the lead heading down the back straight.
Defy Logic was the first to fluff his lines under Mark Walsh three fences from home, but Champagne Fever then hit the second-last hard to hand the clear initiative to the Nolan runner.
There was no way back for the hot favourite as he weakened quickly from the home turn and Defy Logic bounded over the final fence to seal a three-and-a-half-length triumph, with Trifolium coming through to grab the runner-up spot.
Nolan said: "We decided to bounce out with him and if they went with us they went with us, and if they didn't they didn't.
"I was worried that he was going to be one of those horses that was talked up but never delivered, but now he has a Grade One win to his name and I'm delighted.
"Champagne Fever made a bad mistake at a crucial stage, and we just kicked on from there and won the race.
"All going well, he will come back here for the Arkle. This is right up there with my best days."
Willie Mullins made no excuses for Champagne Fever.
"I thought both horses were running terrific races and jumping fantastic down the back," he said.
"It was all to play for from fence to fence. We didn't jump the second-last and that was it -- our game gone.
"The winner put up a tremendous performance and you have to jump them.
"Whether we should go out in trip with him, I don't know. We'll go home and reflect on it."
Just over half an hour earlier, Nolan claimed the Racing Post All You Need For Irish Racing Handicap Chase as Bryan Cooper steered 5/1 shot King Vuvuzela to a comfortable victory.
"Bryan gave him a lovely ride. They went a right pace early on but then they stopped in front and this race tends to go like that as we won it two years back with Arklow Ger," said Nolan.
It was an overall disappointing afternoon at the Foxrock track for Mullins. As well as seeing Champagne Fever turned over at long odds-on, the previously unbeaten Analifet was pulled up early in the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle.
The filly, which had been ante-post favourite for Triumph Hurdle, suffered a potentially serious pelvic injury, but Mullins later revealed her injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.
He said: "It looks like she has a suspected fractured pelvis, but she was standing in the box and we've sent her home.
"She will probably have to stand for maybe six, eight, 10 or 12 weeks. I'd imagine she'll be OK.
"It's just probably finished her season, unless it's just a badly pulled muscle, but it looks to be more. We'll get her scanned."
The Dessie Hughes-trained Guitar Pete (9/2) made the most of Analifet's absence at the business end, claiming Grade Two honours by seven lengths under Cooper.
Hughes said: "He is a smashing little horse. He will go back to Cheltenham now, for either the Triumph or the Fred Winter, but he will probably have another run before then."
The one positive on the day for Mullins was the victory of Clondaw Court in the Thorntons Recycling Maiden Hurdle, but the 2/9 favourite had to pull out all the stops to beat Little Rocky by a head.
"I'm happy that he won, but we probably should have made the running with him," said Hughes.
"I would think we will be stepping him up in trip to two-and-a-half miles plus from now on."
Champion jockey Davy Russell rode his 1,000th National Hunt winner aboard Charles Byrnes' strongly-supported 7/4 favourite Sea Light in the Copper Face Jacks Handicap Hurdle.
Russell said: "I didn't even realise that was my 1,000th winner. I couldn't have done it for a better man. He (Byrnes) has supported me throughout my career, and he has been with me all the way through."
Pat Fahy's 12/1 shot Western Boy made a winning start to his jumping career with a smart display under David Casey in the Thorntons Recycling Hurdle.
The concluding bumper went to Gordon Elliott's 25/1 shot Noble Endeavor.