Champion Bumper winner Ferny Hollow made a successful start to his career over hurdles with victory at Gowran Park.
Making his first appearance since sweeping through to beat stablemate Appreciate It at the Cheltenham Festival in March, the Cheveley Park Stud-owned five-year-old was unsurprisingly cramped odds for the I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle at 1-3.
Ridden by Paul Townend, Ferny Hollow tracked the pacesetting Bob Olinger for much of the two-mile contest and the promising pair were always clear of their rivals.
Bob Olinger, an impressive winner of a point-to-point and a bumper, gave the market leader a run for his money from the home turn, but in the end Ferny Hollow displayed a superior turn of foot on the run-in to prevail by a length – with much to like about both the winner and second.
Mullins said: “It was a nice performance. Two good horses came up the straight there, and hopefully we’ll hear more about both of them.
“He’ll improve from that run, and we’ll look forward to Christmas.”
Paddy Power trimmed Ferny Hollow to 8-1 from 10-1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at next year’s Cheltenham Festival.
Mullins and Townend had earlier successfully combined with French recruit Youmdor, who was a different class to the opposition in the Thanks To All Our Sponsors In 2020 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle.
A dual winner on the Flat for Freddy Head, the Youmzain gelding made a smooth transition to the jumping game with a 16-length triumph.
“He’s a smart horse and handled the ground very well for a three-year-old. He got underneath a few hurdles early on, but the last couple were his best jumps,” said Townend.
“He’s exciting going forward, and it’s nice to get these colours (of the McNeill Family) off to a winning start.”
The Mullins-Townend axis was narrowly denied in the Download The BoyleSports App Novice Hurdle, with 10-11 favourite Galopin Des Champs mowed down late by Arthur Moore’s Sea Ducor (8-1), ridden by Donagh Meyler.
The champion trainer and jockey did, however, go on to complete four-timers, with Annamix (5-6 favourite) and Energumene (8-13 favourite) both registering emphatic wins over fences.
Annamix, who was ante-post favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in his younger days, is now two from two over the larger obstacles.
Mullins said: “I think this fellow has improved with age and I don’t mind going up in trip with him either.
“He jumped well, so hopefully he can improve for the rest of the season.”
Of Energumene, he added: “He loves chasing, and Paul was very taken with him, which has to be a good sign. We’ll probably find something for him around Christmas.”
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