Hanlon's Hidden Cyclone storms home at Punchestown
Hidden Cyclone recorded an overdue success when getting back on the winning trail in the Boylesports Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown.
John 'Shark' Hanlon's stable star filled the runner-up spot three times at Grade One level last season before falling on his final appearance of the campaign at the Punchestown Festival and also came to grief on his return at Thurles in November.
However, having chased home the re-opposing Twinlight at Leopardstown he was 6/5 favourite to reverse the placings with an 8lb pull at the weights in this Grade Two event and he did so with the minimum of fuss.
Dominating from the front throughout, Hidden Cyclone jumped neatly in the hands of Andrew McNamara and left his rivals trailing when kicking on from two out. He slowed down and just popped the last to ease five lengths clear of Bright New Dawn, which edged out Twinlight for second.
"We're happy for a change. We're so used to being second so it's good to come here and win," remarked Hanlon (right). "The better ground helped. It dried out a lot in the last couple of days.
"Over two miles he's good and he has plenty of cruising gears. I have to speak to the owners yet, but I'd say the Queen Mother is the plan and he'll go straight to Cheltenham now."
Favourite backers were also on the mark in the Grand National Trial as Robert Tyner's Embracing Change (7/2) was steered to a length and a half victory by Philip Enright.
Earlier there was a minor surprise in the Listed EBF Novice Hurdle as the Shay Barry-trained Bentelimar (4/1) took the spoils in the hands of Brian O'Connell.
After tracking O Ceallaigh for most of the way, O'Connell's mount found top gear and swept to the lead rounding the turn for home to see off All Hell Let Loose in second, with the Mullins pair of Aminabad and Avant Tout both failing to get competitive.
There was a much bigger surprise in the opening PP Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase, in which Enda Bolger's Quantitativeeasing (8/11) proved a bitter disappointment as 20/1 shot Ballyboker Bridge clinched victory.
The market leader was in trouble a long way out as 66/1 outsider Owens Pride went clear in the straight, but he was mowed down by Peter Maher's point-to-pointer Ballyboker Bridge, capably handled by amateur rider Garrett Murphy.
Just as disappointing was November Handicap hero Open Eagle (8/13) which could finish only third on his jumping debut in the Michael Fitzpatrick Memorial Maiden Hurdle as the Sandra Hughes-trained Total Recall claimed victory under Bryan Cooper.
The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old travelled well for most of the two-and-a-half-mile journey, but did not jump with great fluency and while he closed on the leaders in the straight, his effort eventually petered out.
Point-to-point winner Total Recall was an 11/2 chance and he found plenty of pressure to get the better of Oscar Knight by two and a half lengths.
Oliver McKiernan and Robbie Colgan teamed up to land the three-mile handicap hurdle with Lean Araig (11/1) while the bumper went to Gordon Elliott's even-money favourite General Principle which streaked clear of his rivals in the hands of David Mullins.