Mullins on double as Shaneshill shines on hurdles debut
Leading bumper horse Shaneshill made an impressive start to his jumps career with a facile success in the two-and-a-half-mile maiden hurdle at Fairyhouse.
The 2/11 favourite dispensed with the opposition as expected to cement his position as the 7/1 market leader for the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Ruby Walsh had the Willie Mullins-trained Punchestown champion bumper winner handy as Luckynumberslevin set the pace before taking it up effortlessly at the last and beating Keppols Queen by four lengths.
"I'm very pleased. He jumped very well apart from the third last, and given his bumper form he was entitled to do that," said Mullins."He could go back to two miles or up in trip, and he's certainly not restricted by trip."
Mullins had earlier struck with Outlander (4/9), which also looked good on his hurdles bow on what was his first run for 574 days. The Gigginstown House Stud-owned six-year-old easily landed the odds in the Christmas Party Race Day On 20th December At Fairyhouse Maiden Hurdle.
Outlander cruised into the lead at the penultimate flight and only had to be pushed out by Bryan Cooper to score by 11 lengths from Mike McCann, ahead of third-home Blue Bicycle, the first runner for Sandra Hughes who took over the licence following the death of father Dessie.
Boylesports, who announced they will continue to sponsor the Irish Grand National for the next two years, introduced Outlander at 14/1 for the Neptune.
Noel Meade's Waxies Dargle (5/2) took the opening maiden hurdle under Paul Carberry who sent his mount into the lead at the second last to win by two and a half lengths from Digeanta.
Meade went on to complete a double as Aengus (3/1) landed the bumper in the hands of Carberry's sister, Nina, who had to work a good deal harder to beat Cappacon by two lengths with favourite Arkwrisht back in third.
Victory in the two-mile handicap hurdle went to Broadway Twist which gave trainer Liz Doyle a prefect present on her 39th birthday when staying on strongly under Brian O'Connell to defy his 16/1 price.
Robbie Power guided the Denise Foster-trained Tipped Up Harry (5/1) to a five-length success in the two mile, four furlong handicap hurdle, while Paul Nolan's Triplets Joy (7/2 favourite) battled well for Kevin Sexton in the staying equivalent.
Who is your sportstar of the year?
Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.
Prizes include, tickets to Ireland's against Scotland in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.