Faugheen just fabulous as Easywork lives up to his name
A mouth-watering clash it was on paper, but the perceived wisdom that Samcro would prove too good for an ageing Faugheen was well and truly turned on its head by the former champion hurdler, who belied his age of almost 12 to visit a comprehensive 22-length defeat on his four-year-younger opponent.
Under Patrick Mullins, there was no sign of the errors which almost marred his chasing debut at Punchestown in November.
He bowled along from a circuit out, Samcro came upsides him at the third last, and all the way down the hill to the top of the straight, we waited for Jack Kennedy to press the button, but it was Patrick Mullins who got the greater response from his mount.
Once he took over again, jumping the second last, the race was over and a brilliant jump at the last showed just how much Faugheen had in the tank. It was a most impressive display.
"He was electric, jumped fantastically," said the winning rider, who last rode this horse to win a bumper at Punchestown in 2013.
He added: "He made one mistake at the last on the far side which let Samcro upsides, but my plan was to wind it up from there and we did.
"By the time we got to the home straight I knew that I had Samcro off the bridle and I knew my fellow would keep finding. When I needed big jumps at the last two I got them. He loves chasing, it turns him on! You can feel it.
"Today was the plan, off that is he an RSA horse? We won't rule any race out."
A battle between Jack Kennedy and Patrick Mullins entering the straight in the 2m4f Signsplus Hurdle looked like a possible portent of things to come later in the day.
But unlike in the Matchbook Novice Chase a couple of hours later, it was Kennedy's mount Easywork who proved much too good in overturning the Mullins-ridden 8/11 favourite Unexcepted.
Easywork proved maybe the second most impressive winner on the afternoon at Greenmount, and may well have climbed a couple of rungs up the pecking order among the Gordon Elliott-trained novice hurdlers as he quickened up impressively to leave the favourite for dead between the final two flights.
The winning margin of 22 lengths did justice to his superiority, and Elliott's assistant Ian Amond commented: "He looks a fair horse and that was very impressive. Jack is a rider that wouldn't say a whole lot but he was very impressed with him.
"He's a keen enough horse at home but he settled well today, so he's obviously learning in that way and he looks like he's going to be a nice horse. He did everything well today."