Connections are hopeful Blue Lord can tread the same path as Footpad and complete and the Irish-English Arkle double following victory at Leopardstown on Saturday.
The Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old was one of six Grade One winners for the Closutton handler at the Dublin Racing Festival over the weekend.
The Paul Townend-ridden Blue Lord had to survive a stewards’ inquiry after his half-length victory over Riviere D’Etel in the Irish Arkle Novices’ Chase.
The pair came close on a couple of occasions in a thrilling finish to the two-mile contest but after deliberations, the result stood.
Blue Lord remains unbeaten in three starts over fences and retained his place at the head of the market at a general 5-2 for the Arkle on March 15.
Anthony Bromley, co-founder of Highflyer Bloodstock and racing manager to owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, feels the gelding still has a bit to learn.
“Simon and Isaac were really pleased to be there to witness him win a first Grade One,” said Bromley. “Paul Townend felt he was idling a bit up the run-in and was still a bit green.
“He seems fine after the race and all roads lead to the Cheltenham Arkle.
“The owners won the Irish Arkle with Footpad (2018) and he went on to win the English Arkle. While Footpad was more impressive than Blue Lord, the one thing Blue Lord has in his favour is that he is lightly raced and still learning.
“He still has a tendency to race a bit keenly and I’d say there is still more room for improvement.
“I think the horse is getting better and you wouldn’t swap him for anything else in the race, but equally, with Ferny Hollow ruled out through injury, it is a wide-open renewal.
“He is a lovely big, scopey horse, who has done nothing wrong and his future is very much in front of him. It was very exciting, but that long stewards’ inquiry was not good for the heart!”
Lily Du Berlais maintained her unbeaten record when landing a 40-1 surprise in the Grade Two Coolmore NH Sires Santiago Irish EBF Mares INH Flat Race.
The Munir and Souede-owned six-year-old, who got up to win by a nose in a blanket finish for trainer Stuart Crawford and his amateur jockey brother Ben, may now head to Aintree for the mares’ bumper at the Grand National meeting in April.
Bromley said: “We were thrilled for the Crawford family to get a winner on a big stage like the Dublin Festival.
“It was a great piece of training and a great riding performance, because she is not a straightforward mare – she has two ways of going: steady and flat-out. The whole plan was to sit last, have her switched off and come with one, sustained run.
“The gaps opened for Ben quite well and it did get a bit tight, but she battled hard and finished with a bit of a flourish. I think her momentum got her home.
“She was a couple of lengths down with 100 yards to go. It did not feel as close as the photograph showed, but the nods of the head meant it was exceptionally close and there was very little in it. I’m sure if you ran the race 10 times again, you’d get different results.”
Bromley added: “But at the end of the day she is the mare who has now won a Grade Two and there were a lot of unbeaten horses going into that race. It looks a deep renewal and she is the only one who has come out of it and stays unbeaten.
“She has come out of the race fine this morning and I would envisage we will try to get her to the mares’ bumper at Aintree. That would be the likely plan.”
On a great weekend for the ‘Double Green’ owners’ silks, Impulsive One earned a step up in class following victory at Musselburgh in the Scottish Triumph Hurdle.
The Nicky Henderson-trained four-year-old, who had only been beaten a length by Knight Salute in the Grade Two Summit Hurdle at Doncaster in December, ran out a four-length winner under James Bowen and is now on course for the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton.
“Impulsive One was not bought to be a jumper,” said Bromley. “We bought him out of the breeze-up to be a Flat horse. He was rated 80 on the Flat with William Haggas, but got to a level. We tried jumping and he has got a bit of an aptitude for it – he actually hurdles very slickly and he wants decent ground.
“The target had been this race at Musselburgh for a couple of months and it all went to plan.
“He will now have to carry a penalty in better races, but I think we might just roll the dice and try him in the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton and see where we are.
“If he is up to Grade Two level in that, then we can consider going to Aintree for the Grade One Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle or just go down the handicap route.
“But the way he won yesterday, while not the strongest Listed race, he won it decisively and I think he deserves a step up in class to see where we are with him.
“We never thought he was good enough to warrant an entry in the Triumph Hurdle and we are not really looking at the Fred Winter at the moment.
“We will look at the Adonis and see where we are after that.”