Concertista boosted her claims for a third successive appearance at the Cheltenham Festival with a cheeky victory in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
Narrowly beaten in the Grade Two Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle in 2019, the Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old went one better last season.
She did her prospects for the Grade One Mares’ Hurdle in March no harm with an eye-catching performance on her seasonal debut.
Carrigeen Lotus set the pace in this Grade Two contest, with Minella Melody in second place and Concertista a close fourth of the six runners.
There was little change in the order until the penultimate flight where Minella Melody went on, but Paul Townend was aware of the move and brought Concertista to challenge at the last.
The 6-4 favourite toyed with her market rival on the run-in before being allowed to go on in the closing stages and score by a length and three-quarters to complete a double for Mullins and Townend after Monkfish’s win in the beginners’ chase.
The first two pulled 14 lengths clear of Queens Book in third.
Mullins said: “That trip wasn’t any problem to her. We’ll probably look for something at Christmas and whether it’s a mares’ race or she takes on the boys, I’m not sure.”
Concertista was cut from 10-1 for the Mares’ Hurdle to 6-1 with Paddy Power and 13-2 with Betfair.