Petit Mouchoir makes a huge leap into chasing game
Irish Champion Hurdle winner Petit Mouchoir made a solid debut over fences by making all the running to land yesterday's two-mile beginners chase at Punchestown.
Henry de Bromhead's grey, third to Buveur D'Air in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, burnt off Brelade between the final two obstacles.
While the 8/13 favourite got in a little close to the final fence, Davy Russell's mount never looked in danger of falling and coasted over the line to win by seven lengths from Brelade.
Prior to the last he had barely put a foot wrong and it wasn't surprising to see him cut to 8/1 for next year's Arkle as he looks a smart chasing recruit.
"You'd be nervous heading out on him as today was very important he did things right with the future in mind. Henry is a master at improving hurdlers to chasers and he looks to have done it again," said Russell.
"The country is full of high-quality horses and he's one - it's a highly competitive sphere but I'm sure he'll hold his own."
The trainer added: "He's clever, and he could come back here for the Grade Two (Craddockstown Chase on November 19). We'll see what everyone wants to do, but that would look a nice race for him."
While Gordon Elliott had to settle for the runner-up berth with Brelade, the Co Meath trainer still left the course with a double.
Jack Kennedy partnered Cracking Smart (4/7f) to victory in the two-and-a-half-mile maiden hurdle - which galloped four lengths clear of runner-up Shady Operator - but it was his other winner that generated more interest.
Campeador (11/8f) will be remembered by many for crashing out at the final flight in last year's Fred Winter at Cheltenham, as well as at Fairyhouse on his only outing last season, but he returned from a lengthy absence to win the Coral.ie Champions Club Rated Hurdle.
Elliott's grey travelled with all his old elan for Barry Geraghty and was a comfortable one and three-quarter length winner from Wakea.
"He's a nice horse and we'll have to see where we go from here but he has a nice engine," said Elliott. "We'll see where the lads want to go, but he's going to have to improve a lot to be thinking about going that (Champion Hurdle) way.
"Once he's OK in the morning that's the most important thing and Barry said he could jump a fence."
Geraghty had earlier won on another promising JP McManus recruit for Gavin Cromwell as Espoir D'Allen (11/10f) coasted home in the opening 3-Y-O Hurdle.