Bell tolls for Vesper
Willie Mullins continued to build upon a highly successful Winter Festival at Leopardstown at Punchestown's card as Vesper Bell (5/4) ran out a wide margin winner of the opener on the card.
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You Must Know Me (9/10) was sent off as an odds-on favourite having made Boston Bob pull out all of the stops at Navan earlier in the month and having been handed an easy lead, Andrew Lynch looked confident of gaining compensation.
Ruby Walsh refused to panic and having brought his mount into contention at the third last, the favourite made a bad mistake and quickly dropped away.
The forecast slot eventually being filled by 25/1 outsider, Carry Each Other.
Henry De Bromhead later reported that the favourite had finished the race lame.
Mullins is now eyeing a crack at the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham: "He looks made for the four-miler and that will be his aim," said the champion trainer.
"He loves those conditions and a test of stamina and we were pleased with him."
Stan James make Vesper Bell a 14/1 shot for his Festival target.
Luke's Benefit (2/1f) landed the derekoneill.com Handicap Chase under 7lb conditional, Brian Cawley.
Itsuptoyou looked to have poached a racewinning lead as they met the last fence, but the young rider exhibited few nerves as the grey got up in the shadows of the post.
Winning trainer Denis Hogan said: "That's great. Brian is great value for his seven-pound claim and gave him a great ride. He didn't panic and arrived just in time.
"He is what he is ratings wise and we'll look for something similar. There's a race for him at Naas next week, but that might be a bit soon. He'll mix it in handicap hurdles and chases."
Hartside (5/2) proved a fortuitous winner of the Maiden Hurdle on the card under Davy Russell as odds-on favourite, Fatcatinthehat, capitulated at the last when well clear of his field.
Winning trainer Noel Meade said: "He's a grand little horse and won three at a moderate enough level on the Flat. It's a good way to finish the year - so well done him."
The Dessie Hughes trained Canaly (9/1) followed up a recent win over chase fences at Fairyhouse with victory over hurdles in the fifth race on the card.
The Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Hurdle looked a suitable opportunity for Sacre Malta to follow up his Limerick victory but William Murphy's six-year-old burnt the fingers of his supporters as World Citizen (10/1) came to the rescue of the layers.
Our Pollyanna (7/1) made all to take the bumper for Pru Dobbs and Patrick King.