Cheltenham Festival heroine Concertista made a successful transition to fences in the O’Flynn Group Irish EBF Mares Novice Chase at Cork.
A 12-length winner at Prestbury Park in 2020, Willie Mullins’ seven-year-old was strongly fancied to double her Festival tally in last season’s Mares’ Hurdle, but was narrowly denied by Black Tears.
Concertista was a beaten favourite again at the Punchestown Festival, but bounced back to winning ways on her chasing debut and seasonal reappearance under Sean O’Keeffe.
With 10-11 favourite Magic Daze ensuring a strong pace, Mullins’ 13-8 chance jumped well in behind before delivering her challenge in the straight.
Jeremys Flame also arrived on the scene to set up a thrilling climax, with Concertista holding her off by half a length and Magic Daze just over a length further behind in third.
Mullins’ assistant, David Casey, said: “She is not an exuberant jumper and is quick at her fences. Sean was happy enough with her and was confident the whole way that if he kept her jumping together, she’d win.
“I think she’ll improve loads from the run and hopefully will progress through the year. We’ll keep an eye on all those mares’ race for the time being and see what’s there for her.”