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Winning the best medicine for Mulhern as Puyol finds target

Puyol provided his owner-trainer John Mulhern with the perfect tonic by taking the valuable MCR Hurdle at Leopardstown yesterday.

The Curragh-based handler is currently recovering from serious illness so he was not present to see his 16/1 shot land the spoils in the hands of John Cullen. Puyol led at the last and won from three horses trained by Willie Mullins -- Tawaagg, C'est Ca and Tarkari.

"The strong gallop and big field suited him and he jumped great," said Mulhern's assistant Stephen McCarthy. "The 10st 10lb on his back also suited as he's not big -- there is not much in front of you when you are sitting on him.

"Consistency is his middle name. With that weight on his back he could win another one but I'd say he'll get a few pounds for that! The boss is recovering slowly but surely and this will be a proper tonic for him. He said if he won today he would go novice chasing and that's the plan."

Anothercoppercoast (7/1) put in brave display to land the Leopardstown Handicap Chase by four and a half lengths from Jayo. "He's overdue something like that and it was great to have Shay (Barry) on, that was a bonus," said trainer Paul Roche.

Roberto Goldback leapt into the picture for the Cheltenham Festival with a smooth victory in the MCR Novice Chase. William Hill gave Jessica Harrington's eight-year-old a first show of 25/1 both for the Arkle Trophy and the RSA Chase after he followed up last month's win over Cousin Vinny in style.

Robbie Power had him in front before the final fence where a fluent jump sealed victory and the 5/2 shot came home by six lengths from long-time leader Apt Approach.

"Robert was absolutely thrilled with his jumping. He has improved again," said Emma Harrington, representing her mother who was on a skiing trip.

Prince Erik earned a shot at the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham after running out a cosy winner of the qualifier. Power sealed a double when he produced his mount to lead at the last and he went on for a cosy six-length success over Conclave.

Trainer Dermot Weld revealed afterwards that the winner will be aimed at the series final.

"He did it very well. He handled the ground and got a lovely ride from Robbie Power," said Weld, who doubled up for owner Dr Ronan Lambe when Hidden Universe looked one to follow when making a winning debut in the bumper.

Robbie McNamara's mount cruised into the lead early in the straight and won by 10 lengths from Timesawastin.

Sunday Independent