Spider Web romps home for JP McManus at Leopardstown
Shane Crimin steered Spider Web to a clear-cut victory in the Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Chase at Leopardstown.
The Tom Mullins-trained six-year-old had been largely disappointing of late, but was dangerously well handicapped on his hurdle form and was sent off a well-backed 13-2 joint-favourite for the opening contest on the fourth and final day of the Christmas Festival.
Carrying the colours of JP McManus, Spider Web made his move in the back straight and hit the front rounding the home turn.
With the final fence bypassed, several horses attempted to reel him in, but Crimin's mount found plenty for pressure and passed the post seven and a half lengths ahead of Bilko.
Mullins said: "He's a good jumper and just when Shane asked him he got there a bit soon
"I fancied him a little bit the last day but I'd say two miles wasn't his cup of tea. Two-five today was perfect for him.
"He had a couple of good wins as a novice hurdler and then he couldn't find his way last year. He got to a mark of 110 and just couldn't improve off it.
"He's come back a nicer horse this year. Chasing is his game definitely. We'll see if we can find another handicap now."
Dicey O'Reilly was a surprise winner of the Pigsback.com Maiden Hurdle.
Ballyward, not seen since winning a bumper at this meeting a year ago, was the 6-4 favourite to make a successful hurdling debut for Willie Mullins, while Jessica Harrington's Someday and the Joseph O'Brien-trained Mortal were also prominent in the market.
Having finished a well-beaten fourth on his hurdling bow at Cork, Henry de Bromhead's Dicey O'Reilly was a largely unconsidered 18-1 shot in the hands of 5lb claimer Dylan Robinson, but was always prominent and came home best in the straight to score by three and a half lengths.
Mortal filled the runner-up spot ahead of Someday and Ballyward in third and fourth respectively.
De Bromhead said: "I'm delighted with him. It's brilliant to get it for the owners, Brian and Carmel Acheson, who are great supporters.
"He was bought out of a point-to-point. As I seem to keep saying lately, there were a lot of long faces when he got well beaten in Cork.
"We found a problem with him and he seems good since. He showed on the track what he shows us at home.
"He'll go for a novice hurdle now. He's entitled to as that was a good maiden and he won nicely."