Cat in the Cheltenham hat
Fatcatinthehat made amends for a last-fence fall on his previous start with a cosy all-the-way win in the leopardstown.com Maiden Hurdle at the Dublin track.
- Related Content
Paul Townend dictated affairs on the Willie Mullins-trained 8/15 shot and was not hard pressed to open his account over jumps.
Fatcatinthehat easily shrugged aside Welsh Nayber to score by eight lengths from Ibsen, who snatched second spot by a short head, and book his ticket to the Cheltenham Festival.
Mullins said: "I'm very pleased. It looked a fast race and there was no let up in the pace.
"He jumped fantastic and I couldn't ask for any better.
"He'll probably go for the Fred Winter and we'll see what sort of mark he gets.
"He'll get an entry in the Triumph, the Fred Winter and maybe the Supreme Novices' as well.
"I'd say that took a lot out of him and I doubt if he'll have another run before Cheltenham."
Farrells Fancy (9/1) was all out to land the spoils in the Leopardstown Handicap Chase.
Terence O'Brien's charge was always prominent and led before the second-last, although Sweet My Lord looked like putting in a strong challenge when he fell at the final fence.
Farrells Fancy was treading water in the final strides but 5lb Mark Enright held him together to hold the late bid of Sweeney Tunes by a head with Klepht third and Carlingford Lough fourth.
O'Brien said: "In fairness to the horse, we always thought there was a big prize in him.
"We very nearly didn't run today because I just thought he doesn't really like heavy ground.
"It was touch and go whether we'd run or not, it was only on the toss of a coin really that we ran. He had bits of problems as he got a stress fracture but he gives everything."
Enright said: "He was keen all the way, he was running away from me for most of the race and I just had to keep bringing him back.
"Going to the second-last, I let him roll and he winged it and got a good jump at the last.
"I had to give it hell for leather from the last as he just idled on the way to the line."
Abbey Lane (16/1) came with a strong late run to claim another big pot for champion trainer Mullins in the Boylesports.com Handicap Hurdle.
Ridden by his nephew Emmet, the eight-year-old jumped into contention at the final flight and battled on stoutly on the run-in to win by two and a half lengths.
Rocky Wednesday was second with the gambled-on 9/2 favourite Ted Veale just behind in third and Joxer fourth.
Mullins said: "He ran right up to his rating last time out at Fairyhouse and I thought he handled that real heavy ground and any time you have horses with a nice handicap mark in a big race like that, worth that sort of money, you've got to take your chance.
"I'll have to have a chat with the owner but maybe we'll have a look at the County Hurdle at Cheltenham."
The winning rider said: "I was wide to stay out of trouble as with 30 runners, things can get a bit messy.
"I knew once I got to the leaders I was always going to outstay them.
"He's a real galloper and he's probably going to be a better chaser next year."
Stan James gave Abbey Lane a 16/1 quote for the County Hurdle.
Mala Beach (11/2) got Rocky Wednesday's trainer Gordon Elliott on the scoresheet in the Ryan's Cleaning Maiden Hurdle while Le Vent D'Antan (7/4 favourite) made a winning debut in the bumper for trainer Liz Doyle.
Stan James make Le Vent D'Antan 6/1 favourite for the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at Cheltenham after his six-length victory.
Doyle, who has had nurtured such exciting prospects such as future Festival winners Al Ferof and Cheltenian in their formative years, said: "We bought him as a yearling in France and his grandmother is Pebbles - which is very interesting.
"He won a schooling bumper on heavy ground and everyone was wanting to know what he was.
"Some friends of my sister's, in London, asked me a few years ago if I had a horse that might end up in Cheltenham and I said I did, but he was only two at the time and they would have to wait 13 or 14 months on him. They did it and here we are.
"I'd say he'll go straight to Cheltenham and have a racecourse gallop somewhere. He's very mature and forward and wouldn't be like the normal gangly Irish four-year-old. He'll be mature as anything there.
"A better race would suit him and a little better ground. Everything he's done since he arrived in the yard has been exceptional but until they put it in ink you never know. He's done that now.
"He works as well as Cheltenian (Cheltenham bumper winner in 2011) - he always screamed that he was a good horse while Al Ferof was quieter."