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Mullins enjoys cold comforts after Fairyhouse hat-trick

Champion trainer Willie Mullins experienced mixed fortunes at Fairyhouse yesterday when racing resumed after the big freeze for the first time since Punchestown on New Year's Eve.

While the odds-on Cousin Vinny failed to come up to expectations in the Beginners Chase, Mullins and great ally Ruby Walsh still doubled up with well-backed favourites Scotsirish and Arvika Ligeonnaire.

And for good measure they later recorded a treble apiece with Up Ou That landing the bumper on his debut in Mullins' son Patrick's hands and Ruby partnering runaway scorer Saddlers Storm in the Jackpot finale to augment the previous afternoon's double at Kempton for Paul Nicholls.

After French import Arvika Ligeonnaire had landed several substantial wagers in the opening Kehoe Maiden Hurdle, Mullins conceded that the lengthy icy spell may well have been a blessing in disguise for his team.

"It could have helped us by clearing up the coughs and colds in the yard," he remarked before outlining plans for an imminent step-up in grade and trip for the five-year-old.

"The idea was to get this horse settled and that worked well, although he will improve his jumping for this. We will look for a good novice hurdle next," said the trainer.

He was even more pleased after the featured Normans Grove Chase in which Walsh's mount Scotsirish and a staying-on Snowy Morning captured the lion's share of the prize money ahead of last year's winner Mansony.

Scotsirish was fulfilling the promise shown when third to stablemate Golden Silver and Tranquil Sea at Leopardstown and Mullins revealed that Walsh blamed himself for not making more use of this horse then."Scotsirish was always a nearly horse and may just be coming to himself now," Mullins said."

The Ryanair Chase could be the Cheltenham target for Scotsirish as Golden Silver and Barker are the Closutton handler's prime Champion Chase candidates.

Some erratic jumping didn't help Cousin Vinny's cause on his second start over the larger obstacles and he had to give best in the closing stages to Nicanor and An Cathaoir Mor.

Travelling best of this trio approaching the final fence, An Cathaoir Mor only got to the front as the camera clicked for David Casey to foil Nicanor and probably book a quick return to action at Leopardstown next Sunday.

"This fellow takes his racing well and may run in the Arkle Cup," said trainer Henry de Bromhead.

Irish Independent