Ruby Walsh rides Zaidpour to Christmas Hurdle triumph at Leopardstown
Zaidpour went one better than last year when grabbing the honours in the woodiesdiy.com Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown.
Beaten when favourite 12 months ago, the Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old took full advantage of the absence through injury of Solwhit to claim the third grade One of his career.
Whatuthink took the four-runner field along until Rule The World jumped into the lead five out. Mala Beach made his bid but he was soon swept aside.
Ruby Walsh bided his time on Zaidpour before unleashing the 5-4 favourite at the business end to gain the upper hand on the run-in.
Mullins said: "He came back in very strong. The cheekpieces worked well at Fairyhouse but I took them off as I thought he might be too free over three miles.
"There's been huge improvement in him. He's better now as seven-year-old and that's very unusual.
"This was his ground and track but he's going to be very hard to place."
Elsewhere in the card, Sure Reef gave the top team of trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh a winning start at Leopardstown by taking the Madigans Maiden Hurdle.
The four-year-old gelding, owned by Andrea and Graham Wylie, had unseated Walsh at the first on his jumping debut, but made amends in pleasing fashion.
Held up in the early stages as Akorakor made most of the running, the 5-2 favourite led soon after negotiating the final flight and pulled three and a quarter lengths clear. Shield was second and Akorakor third.
Courage (14-1) wore-down Seefood on the run-in to come out on top in the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle.
It looked as though Bryan Cooper's ploy to plough a lone furrow on Seefood was going to reap dividends as Deesie Hughes' charge turned for home with a clear advantage.
However, he could not hold the late challenge of Courage and David Casey with Charlie Swan's runner getting up in the last 100 yards to win by three-quarters of a length. Supreme Carolina was third and Gold Patrol fourth.
Dysios (8-1) was given a patient ride by Barry Geraghty to get the better of Leah Claire in the Star Best For Racing Christmas Rated Hurdle.
There were several with chances between the final two flights, but nothing was going better than the Denis Cullen-trained Dysios, who battled on stoutly on the dash to the line to win by two lengths from Leah Claire.
The pace-setting Star Of Aragon plugged on for third.
Djakadam gave Mullins and Walsh a treble on the card, after the wins of Sure Reef and Zaidpour in the woodiesdiy.com Christmas Hurdle, when making a successful seasonal debut in the Ballymaloe Country Relish Beginners Chase.
The 11-8 favourite proved best in a three-way battle in the closing stages as he warded off Si C'Etait Vrai by a length and a quarter with Minsk just behind in third.