Willie Mullins' Bapaume gains revenge on Landofhopeandglory at Leopardstown
Bapaume claimed the scalp of Landofhopeandglory in the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown.
Landofhopeandglory headed the Triumph Hurdle market after winning his first three over timber, most recently defeating Bapaume in a Fairyhouse Grade Three.
Bapaume was having his first start for Willie Mullins that day, though, and has obviously come on for the run.
He and Landofhopeandglory jumped up either side of leader Zig Zag at the second-last and settled down to fight it out, but Bapaume found more reserves of stamina and scored by a length and three-quarters, with Mega Fortune only narrowly failing to catch Landofhopeandglory for second.
Boylesports cut Bapaume to 8-1 from 12-1 for the Triumph Hurdle and eased Landofhopeandglory to 10-1 from 6-1.
RaceBets went 7-1 (from 12-1) for the Cheltenham feature in March, and Walsh said: "We thought our horse had improved a little bit for his first run for us at Fairyhouse.
"It was pretty similar to Fairyhouse, I went pretty much the same speed myself today and I ignored Zig Zag in front. I rode my own race and he's a tough horse. He jumped well, stays well and he's improving.
"It was a good race and it's great to win it. He's a sharp looking horse, so who knows how much more he can improve?"
Mullins said: "He improved from the last day, as I hoped he might. He jumps and gallops and gets the job done.
"We were probably lucky enough getting the run on the inside coming around the last bend. I said to myself going into the second last 'Ruby's in a pocket here' and then it just opened up a little bit after the second-last.
"He took his chance and just kept him balanced and got a good jump at the last.
"He wouldn't excite you at home but he gallops which is what you need in these (juvenile) races.
"He will probably come back here for the Grade One race in February (Spring Juvenile Hurdle)."
Earlier in the card, Bunk Off Early made a victorious start to his jumping career in the Horse & Jockey Hotel Maiden Hurdle.
Willie Mullins' grey disputed the lead with Imperial Way until a slick leap two out carried him a couple of lengths clear.
As Imperial Way faded, his stablemate Outspoken emerged as the main threat but Ruby Walsh had not pressed any buttons on 7-4 favourite Bunk Off Early, who quickened again and passed the post with five and a half lengths in hand.
The winner was given a 16-1 quote for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in March by Paddy Power.
Walsh said of the Supreme Horse Racing Club-owned winner: "He was a bit keen. He jumped well and quickened smartly to win. It was a good performance."
Joey Sasa stayed on strongly to claim top honours in the Thorntons Recycling Maiden Hurdle.
Barra took the lead off favourite Castello Sforza at the top of the straight, but Sean Flanagan had him in his sights on the Noel Meade-trained 3-1 chance.
Joey Sasa took it up at the final flight and saw out his race well to triumph by two and a quarter lengths.
Meade said: "He was beaten by a good horse in Navan (Cilaos Emery), and I really thought he would win today.
"Sean said the ground was a help, he felt it was yielding with no soft in it."