Walsh-Mullins axis flying high after Voix Du Reve Ryanair romp
Voix Du Reve proved the star of the opening day Fairyhouse show as he provided Willie Mullins with back-to-back wins in the Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase at Fairyhouse.
Subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo landed the Grade One heat last year, and Voix Du Reve led home stablemate Real Steel 12 months on. It was a welcome change of fortune for owners Andrea and Graham Wylie, who lost horses in both the Gold Cup and the Grand National.
Ruby Walsh had Voix Du Reve beautifully settled as Mengli Khan put the pace to the race before dropping away before the turn for home. Real Steel had been restrained at the rear by Paul Townned and emerged as a threat at the second last, but never looked like getting on terms.
Voix Du Reve (9/4) was kept up to his work to win by five-and-a-half lengths.
"It's great for Graham Wylie, who hasn't had the luckiest of seasons, and it's nice to get a Grade One for him," said Mullins.
"He's a very keen horse who is probably bred to get a bit further. Now that he's relaxing a bit more in his races, he's getting a bit further.
"He was travelling well when he went in the JLT at Cheltenham, but he's got his compensation today."
The other big race on the card went to Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore, as Honeysuckle extended her winning run to four with an imperious display in the EBF Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final.
Forced to miss Cheltenham due to a minor setback, the five-year-old was kept in the perfect position throughout by Blackmore, just behind the front runners. It was clear turning into the straight that nothing was travelling as well as the 6/4 favourite, which jumped clear at the second last still on the bridle.
While she was slightly awkward at the last, it did not halt her momentum and Honeysuckle sprinted clear to beat Elfile by five-and-a-half lengths, with Cheltenham winner Eglantine Du Seuil three lengths back in third.
After her Cheltenham Festival double, it was a first Grade One win on home soil for Blackmore.
The meeting got off to a great start for Mark Walsh, who enjoyed a quickfire double initiated by Joseph O'Brien's Galilean (4/1), which sprinted clear after the last to beat odds-on favourite Mr Everest by nine lengths.
Ted Walsh's Roxboro Road (6/1 co-fav) had worn cheekpieces to win at Leopardstown last time, but was equipped with blinkers as he won by 13 lengths in the YR Sauce Novice Handicap Hurdle.
Impact Factor emerged the victor in a dramatic finish to the BoyleSports Novice Handicap Chase.
Robbie Power was primed to challenge on Impact Factor on the outside of the Rachael Blackmore-ridden Mind's Eye, with Denis O'Regan also trying to go up the inside on Snugsborough Hall.
However, having jumped out to his left previously, Mind's Eye dived to his right before the second last, taking Snugsborough Hall out of the race with him.
That left Jessica Harrington's Impact Factor (4/1) to come home five-and-a-half lengths clear of Quamino.
"We might have been lucky, but Robbie thought he was going as well as anything," said Harrington.
Davy Russell and Gordon Elliott were on the mark with Mill Quest (14/1) in the Lauro At Hayes Stud Rated Novice Chase.