Twinlight shines bright for Ruby
THE all-conquering partnership of Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh served notice of their intentions for the coming season at Naas as they combined to land the feature with the progressive Twinlight.
The Polar Square Chase was the main event on the Co Kildare card and surprisingly, Twinlight drifted out to 11/4 as sustained support saw Jessica Harrington's Oscars Well start 11/8 favourite.
What looked a competitive race on paper was turned into something of a procession by the Mullins' inmate as he brushed aside Oscars Well and another Grade One winner in Realt Mor in impressive fashion.
There were four in line at the second-last as Oscars Well and Dylan Ross joined the issue, but the latter took a crashing fall, with his jockey Robbie Power stood down for the rest of the day.
Walsh gave his mount an inch of rein between the final two fences and the race was over as Twinlight pulled seven lengths clear of Oscars Well.
"That was a big improvement," Mullins said. "He came in very strong this season. I was very happy with the way he was after coming in from grass.
"He didn't get a break last year as he was on the go through the summer as we were aiming at the Galway Hurdle. He got a break this summer and you can see the improvement. I'd imagine we'll keep him at two miles. I had thought with the strength of him we might go two and a quarter or two and a half."
Another exciting prospect, the Mouse Morris-trained Rule The World, made a pleasing return from injury by staying on strongly to land the Hospitality At Naas Racecourse Hurdle.
Second at the Cheltenham Festival to new Champion Hurdle favourite The New One, he looked the class act on paper beforehand and travelled well through the race.
However, at the second-last flight Oliver Brady's King Shabra got first run and shot four lengths clear. Davy Russell had to work quite hard on the 6/4 favourite, but his mount responded and pulled two and a half lengths clear.
Rule The World fractured a pelvis when running at the Punchestown Festival, but made a quick recovery.
Morris said: "We thought he was a goner (due to injury). I've no plans, we'll see how he is in the morning. He'll stay hurdling this season.
"It's great to have him back. He looks a chaser in the making. Two and a half miles would be his trip. He wouldn't mind going further."
Paul Nolan has always thought the world of Defy Logic and, while he did not quite reach the heights expected over timber, his trainer felt his future was over fences and he made an impressive start to his new career in the beginners chase.
Making all the running under Mark Walsh, the JP McManus-owned 2/5 favourite jumped well in the main and, despite being a headstrong character over hurdles, appeared to settle much better – galloping 19 lengths clear after the last.
The winner was given a 16/1 quote for the Arkle by Paddy Power and Nolan's brother and assistant, James, said: "You're always nervous when it's your best horse and I'm glad that's out of the way. He really relaxed today.
"The plan was, that if everything went according to plan today, he would go for the Craddockstown at Punchestown and we'll talk to Frank (Berry) now."
Aidan O'Brien maintained his 100pc record since returning to training National Hunt horses when Noah Webster made a winning debut over obstacles in the opening maiden hurdle. After two wins from Carriganog, Noah Webster – without a win on the level after nine races – looked a natural with eight flights of hurdles in his way.
"He did it very well. He was very impressive in a schooling hurdle in Tipperary the other day. He's going to be a lot better hurdler than a Flat horse," said Power of the 14/1 winner.
Courtncatcher (7/1) was a winner of the Brown Lad Handicap Hurdle for trainer Patrick Duffy and Andrew McNamara, just holding off Jennies Jewel.
Michael Winters looks to have another decent recruit on his hands as his well-backed Racing Pulse (7/2) ran out an easy winner of the closing bumper under Mikey O'Connor.