Turban takes feature prize to wrap up Mullins double
Turban landed another feature prize for the Willie Mullins team with a decisive success in the featured Underwriting Exchange Dan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse.
Ruby Walsh brought the 11/2 shot with a powerful bid to lead after two out, sealing victory with a big leap at the final fence.
Competitive Edge and Tony McCoy tried hard but the partnership was well held as Turban eased six lengths clear, with Lastoftheleaders third.
"He ran a nice race (over hurdles when second) in Cork and this is a nice race to win," said Mullins. "He loves that ground and he's a hell of a jumper.
"I'd imagine that was his Gold Cup. If he keeps improving, we'll look at a graded race."
Mullins was completing a double, having earlier struck with Gitane Du Berlais, which outpointed stablemate Vicky De L'Oasis in the Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle.
Paul Townend led a long way out on the lightly-weighted four-year-old and the evens favourite kept up the gallop to comfortably beat Walsh's mount by five lengths.
"It was a good performance and they are two good mares. The winner loves the ground and the trip and the way she jumped the last few she had plenty in the tank," said Mullins.
Gitane Du Berlais received Triumph Hurdle quotes, but Mullins warned: "This is her ground and we are probably looking at taking her to France rather than Cheltenham. It will probably be too quick for her in Cheltenham."
Waxies Dargle (11/1) took advantage of a slip by Daneking to land the Fairyhouse Schooling Races Maiden Hurdle.
The two jumped the last together but Daneking stumbled, losing valuable ground which let McCoy on Noel Meade's runner, owned by JP McManus, go on and score by a length and three-quarters.
"I knew he was in good form coming here today," said Meade. "He's tough and he likes that ground. His jumping was a bit sketchy on his first few runs but he seems to be getting the hang of it now."
Tidy Zag (8/1) took his winning run to three with a clear-cut victory under Andrew McNamara in the Fairyhouse For Fundraisers Handicap Hurdle.
Successful at Cork and Tramore on his last two starts, Ray Hackett's nine-year-old has gone up a total of 15lb in the ratings but it made no difference as he won by an eased-down length and three-quarters from Might Be Magic.
"The horse is very healthy in himself and we've been a long time waiting for that to come about. We're able to kick on with him now and it makes a big difference," said Hackett. "He has improved from Tramore and we'll see how he comes out of this now. We'll let him dictate when to go again but we'll probably look at something in four to six weeks' time."
The booking of champion jockey Davy Russell for the Henry de Bromhead-trained Grand Jesture in the beginners chase raised plenty of eyebrows, but it worked out well for punters as the 5/4 favourite made all the running to land the spoils.
A big leap at the last settled the issue and he went on to win by six-and-a-half lengths over Hit The Headlines.
"He stayed at it well and the change of tactics worked well," said De Bromhead. "He jumped well apart form the mistake two out. We just decided to change the formula and put Davy up. He gave him a good ride.
"Andrew (Lynch) did nothing wrong on him, he was only beaten half a length here by Los Amigos, but we just decided to change things on him.
"I was going to go the cross-country route as he has done a lot of schooling and is deadly at that but after that performance we might look at the big three-mile novice handicap at Navan in March."
Hold Em Cowboy (9/4 favourite) got a trademark Paul Carberry ride to land the Ward Union Hunt Gathering Handicap Chase.
Gordon Elliott's charge was held up in the rear but crept into the race and eventually recorded a cosy four-and-three-quarter-length win.
"He didn't cost much and he's a good servant. He'll go for another little handicap," said Elliott.
Grand Partner (25/1) came from way off the pace to land the closing bumper for trainer Tom Mullins and his amateur rider son, David.