El Fabiolo continued his relentless march towards next month’s Queen Mother Champion Chase with a dominant display in the Ladbrokes Dublin Chase at Leopardstown.
Winner of the Irish Arkle at this meeting last year before following up in the Arkle at Cheltenham, the seven-year-old had stretched his unbeaten record over fences to six when making a successful start to the current campaign in the Hilly Way at Cork.
With the weather denying him an intended trip to Britain for the Clarence House Chase at Ascot last month, El Fabiolo was rerouted to the Dublin Racing Festival for his final outing before his return to the Cotswolds and ultimately got the job done without too much fuss.
Having tracked his stablemate and last year’s winner Gentleman De Mee for most of the two-mile-one-furlong journey, El Fabiolo (4-11 favourite) took over with a big leap two fences from home and was in in full command thereafter, only having to be pushed out by Paul Townend to score by eight and a half lengths from another Willie Mullins-trained runner in Dinoblue.
Both Coral and Paddy Power make El Fabiolo the 4-9 market leader to provide Mullins with a third successive victory in the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival following the back-to-back wins of the currently sidelined Energumene.
Mullins said: “He did his job well because Dinoblue had worked very well during the week, and I thought if he made any mistake then she would definitely give him a race, so it was a good test and not a freebie by any means. She was getting 7lb from him and she is a good mare.
“He was very clean today and very good. Paul just sat very quiet on him, and he appreciated that and did his job.
“I’m delighted all the owners are here and they love coming to Ireland to race. They have raced in France and England extensively, but they say the experience here is way better.
“The appreciation Irish people have for racing is huge which you don’t get in other countries.”
Townend said: “He’s a monster, a huge horse with loads of power.
“I was always happy”
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