Echoes In Rain scooted to a wide-margin victory in the Paddy Kehoe Suspended Ceilings Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
The Willie Mullins-trained mare was bidding for her second successive victory at Grade Two level following a comprehensive display at Naas last month and could hardly have been more impressive in the hands of Paul Townend.
Anchored at the rear of the field for much of the two-mile journey, the keen-going five-year-old made ground to move onto the heels of the leaders before the home turn.
While her rivals were hard at work, Echoes In Rain was still full of running early in the straight under a motionless Townend – and once given her head, she readily pulled 15 lengths clear.
Mullins, winning the race for a seventh time from the last eight runnings, also saddled the runner-up M C Muldoon.
He said: “She’s got plenty of talent, but she just needs to settle. She’s settling and learning all the time.
“We didn’t want to bring her to Cheltenham for the Mares’ Hurdle because I thought she might boil over.
“In better races you can settle her in behind a bit more.
“She’s improving all the time, so we’ll go on to Punchestown now.”
There was a far tighter finish to the other Grade Two on the card – the Colm Quinn BMW Novice Hurdle.
With 4-5 favourite Gentlemansgame a little disappointing in third, it was left to Jessica Harrington’s 10-1 shot Ashdale Bob and 12-1 chance Decimation to fight out a thrilling finish.
No quarter was given by either horse or jockey, but it was Ashdale Bob who edged a neck ahead at the line under Robbie Power.
Townend taken to hospital for a precautionary X-ray on his foot after fall from Egality Mans.
Kate Harrington, assistant to her mother, said: “We’re delighted with that. Robert said it was pure class that got him through it.
“He’s grown a lot since Christmas and is only starting to fill his frame. He’s going to be a lovely horse for next season.
“We’ll have a chat to mum and the owners, but I imagine we’ll probably leave him at that for this season – he could be a very exciting horse going over a fence next year.”
Harrington and Power doubled up with Jungle Junction in the following BoyleSports Novice Handicap Chase, while El Barra (5-4 favourite) had earlier won the Ryan’s Cleaning, Waste And Recycling Maiden Hurdle for the Mullins-Townend combination.
The champion trainer’s assistant, David Casey, said: “The ground was nice for him and he was able to dictate in front
“He ran a bit keen in Leopardstown and disappointed, and probably the same a little bit in Naas.
“We dropped him back to two miles in Navan and he ran well. He’s putting it together.
“I’d imagine he’ll be over fences next season.”
Wild Shot finished fourth in the race, but was banned from running for 60 days and his rider Dylan Browne suspended for 21 days after the stewards ruled he had not gained the best possible placing at a subsequent inquiry.
Following the success of Janidil in the Underwriting Exchange Gold Cup Novice Chase, Dark Raven made it four on the day for the Mullins team with victory in the closing Tattersalls Ireland George Mernagh Memorial Sales Bumper.
Sent off the 4-7 favourite, he hacked up by 11 lengths in the hands of Patrick Mullins.
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