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Twinlight stars as Ruby sparkles with Navan hat-trick

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Twinlight, with jockey Ruby Walsh, made a successful seasonal return easing to victory in the Ladbrokes Fortria CHase at Navan. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Twinlight, with jockey Ruby Walsh, made a successful seasonal return easing to victory in the Ladbrokes Fortria CHase at Navan. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Twinlight, with jockey Ruby Walsh, made a successful seasonal return easing to victory in the Ladbrokes Fortria CHase at Navan. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

JUST like he did last year, Twinlight made a successful seasonal return as he eased to an authoritative victory in the Ladbrokes Fortria Chase at Navan - the highlight of a 13/1 hat-trick for the all-conquering champion jockey.

The Willie Mullins-trained gelding got last season off to a flying start by winning the Poplar Square Chase at Naas and the Hilly Way at Cork, but his form tailed off disappointingly after the turn of the year.

Sent off a very generous-looking 100/30 for his return to the track, Twinlight was kept wide for most of the two-mile journey by Walsh as his mount tended to jump out to his right on several occasions.

BLUNDER

The seven-year-old travelled powerfully into the straight and while he made a slight blunder at the second-last, Walsh (pictured above) kept him on even keel and he pulled seven-and-a-half lengths clear from Days Hotel, the 3/1 joint-favourite.

Mullins - completing a treble on the card and saddling his fourth winner of the afternoon after also striking at Limerick - described the win as "a nice surprise" and said his charge would now bid for a repeat success in the Hilly Way.

The day hadn't begun so well for the Mullins-Walsh combination as their 2/5 favourite Uradel never threatened behind Jessica Harrington's Kaboy which ran out a gutsy winner for Robbie Power in the opening juvenile hurdle.

However, the champion trainer quickly got back on track as he sent out McKinley (11/4) to claim the For Auction Novice Hurdle in the hands of Bryan Cooper for the Gigginstown House Stud operation.

Just over a half-an-hour later, Mullins was back in the winner's enclosure - this time teaming up with Walsh for Zaidpour's comfortable victory in the Lismullen Hurdle.

The former Grade One winner was expected to start cramped odds, but drifted out to 8/13 favourite on what was his first start since finishing sixth in the French Champion Hurdle in June.

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Walsh kept things simple, allowing his mount to stride on at the head of affairs from the off, and he gradually increased the tempo. Zaidpour asserted after jumping the second-last and only had to be pushed hands and heels to get the better of outsider Noble Endeavor by just under three lengths.

Following the Mullins' hat-trick, Walsh completed his treble with the help of Tony Martin whose Gallant Oscar battled to length-and-three-quarters success from Mallards In Flight.

The Mullins-Walsh combination had to make do with minor honours in the two-mile beginners chase as Blood Cotil filled the runner-up spot behind Enda Bolger's Gilgamboa, the second winner of the afternoon for JP McManus.

Making his fencing debut in the hands of Mark Walsh, the 5/4 favourite jumped neatly and tracked the pacesetting Blood Cotil into the straight.

FLUENTLY

With his main rival not jumping either of the last two fences fluently, Gilgamboa took the initiative and was a length-and-a-half to the good at the line.

McManus also saw his colours carried to victory in the two-mile handicap hurdle as Niall Madden drove the Noel Meade-trained 6/4 favourite Harvey Logan to a three-quarter length success over Mind The Pennies.

Meade's former assistant, Nina Carberry, was on the mark in the closing bumper as she booted home Charlie Swan's Rogue Trader (4/1) to a 13-length victory from Ryback Jack.


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