Fact To File came home in splendid isolation after his stablemate and only rival Gaelic Warrior departed at the final fence when already well beaten in Ladbrokes Novice Chase at Leopardstown.
An initial field of five was reduced to a Grade One match between two Willie Mullins-trained runners, with the champion trainer withdrawing Grangeclare West and Gordon Elliott taking out Saturday’s Irish Arkle runner-up Found A Fifty together with his stablemate American Mike.
The two-mile-five-furlong contest was predictably a tactical affair, with Paul Townend allowing 4-7 favourite Gaelic Warrior to stride on in front for much of the way while Mark Walsh was content to sit on his tail aboard 6-4 shot Fact To File.
The latter first joined issue early in the back straight before Gaelic Warrior went clear once more, but it was apparent on the approach to three out that Fact To File was going the better of the pair and he soon took over and asserted before the home turn.
The race was already over as a contest when a weary Gaelic Warrior made a bad mistake and unseated his rider at the final obstacle, allowing Fact To File to coast to what would have been an empathic victory in any case.
Paddy Power make Fact To File their 2-1 favourite from 4-1 for the Turners Novices’ Chase at next month’s Cheltenham Festival, while he is 3-1 with Coral for the longer Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.
Mullins said of the JP McManus-owned winner, who was the runner-up in last year’s Champion Bumper at Cheltenham: “He’s always shown me he’s good. From the first day he came into the yard he was one that I marked down as ‘he could be anything’. He’s doing everything right.
“The race fell apart and I don’t know what happened Gaelic Warrior. I didn’t get a chance to talk to Paul yet.
“He’s so laid-back in the stable and so laid-back in a race. He does everything Mark asks him to do and you could run him over two and a half miles or a Gold Cup trip. He’s got the temperament to go with it, too, which is what you want in those three-mile chasers, he’s a very calm horse.
“I’ll have a word with JP and Frank (Berry) and see what they want to do.”
Walsh added: “Going to the fourth-last I moved up to Paul with a good jump, kept him on the inside and he went by him easy.
“The plan was to put the pressure on three out, but I did it a fence early, it still worked.
“He put it to bed fairly quickly, he’s a fair horse.”
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