Five alive for Missy after Limerick romp
Missy Tata had no problem completing her five-in-a-row as Gordon Elliott's filly extended her winning sequence by landing the feature Irish Independent Hurdle at Limerick yesterday.
Since winning a novice hurdle at Punchestown last April, the daughter of Astarabad has been unbeaten and all roads now lead to the Cheltenham Festival after having little difficulty seeing off two rivals in this two-mile contest.
Sent off the 2/5 favourite for this Listed event, the market leader glided six-and-a-half-lengths clear of Cap D'Aubois in the hands of visiting England-based rider Daryl Jacob.
Elliott's assistant Olly Murphy said: "I don't think two miles is her ideal trip so we decided ride her nice and positive. Her Gold Cup is going to be the two-and-a-half-mile Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham. She is improving the whole time but I doubt we'll see the real article until she goes jumping fences.
"She is straightforward and stays going well and will have one more run or will go straight to Cheltenham."
Stablemate Stone Hard was second favourite behind the Willie Mullins-trained Dicosimo (11/10) in the beginners chase but the latter weakened tamely before the straight and Elliott's 7/4 shot, having put in a solid round of jumping under Keith Donoghue, was able to ease 12 lengths clear of Double Island.
Murphy said of the Gigginstown House Stud-owned six-year-old: "We actually had him as a youngster and he was a horse we always thought a lot of.
"He obviously went to Willie's (Mullins) and came back to us. This wasn't a surprise as his work at home was very good. He'll have to step up now but couldn't have been more impressive. He is a horse we think a lot of and might be starting to fill into himself now - he's a big shell of a horse."
Mullins, who had a four-timer at Leopardstown, got on the scoresheet here with Coquin Mans (1/3) in the opening maiden hurdle over two miles.
The four-year-old travelled well for most of the journey but didn't have things all his own way as he was pressed after the last by 50/1 outsider Surf Instructor, but Paul Townend got the favourite home by a head.
"He was green the whole way around in everything he did and he can only improve in every way," said Townend.
Trainer Steve Mahon emulated Elliott's feat of a double on the card after Ballyluskey (8/1) followed up the victory of Smokey Joe Joe (10/1) in the Cube Veterans Handicap Chase by landing the bumper in game fashion.