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Easy Game delivers in Devenish Chase

Easy Game got back on the winning trail with a determined display in the Devenish Chase at Fairyhouse.

The Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old had been a little disappointing since landing the PWC Champion Chase at Gowran Park in October – most recently unseating his rider at Thurles in January.

With likely favourite Fakir D’oudairies a significant non-runner, Easy Game was the 11-8 market leader for his latest Grade Two test, with Brian Hayes taking over in the saddle from the sidelined Paul Townend.

Having jumped with zest and travelled powerfully on the heels of the leaders, the French-bred gelding moved to the lead early in the home straight, with Castlegrace Paddy emerging as his biggest threat.

Easy Game returns to the winner's enclosure
Easy Game returns to the winner’s enclosure (Gary Carson/PA)

There was not much to choose between the pair approaching the final obstacle, but it was Easy Game who jumped it the better and that may well have proved crucial, with just three-quarters of a length separating the pair at the line.

Mullins said: “He really appreciated the nicer ground today. Brian said the last day in Thurles he was getting stuck in the ground, but today he was jumping so well and he was really happy with him.

“Brian is a great chase jockey and this was a nice spare for him. He gives horses great confidence.

“The horse looked beaten going to the last, but Brian pulled him together for one jump and it paid off for him.

“I’d imagine he’ll go to Punchestown.”

Easy pickings as Mullins’ chaser leads all the way

Easy Game made every yard of the running to lift the Grade Two PWC Champion Chase at Gowran.

The two-and-a-half-mile affair lost some of its sparkle when Arkle winner Put The Kettle On was withdrawn on account of the good ground, resulting in Easy Game, trained by Willie Mullins, being send off the 11-10 favourite.

Paul Townend was keen to take control from the off and Easy Game travelled well throughout, before surviving a slightly sticky leap at the penultimate obstacle to come home seven lengths clear of The Storyteller to bag the 20,650 euros first prize.

“Paul was allowed to dictate and he made use of that,” said Mullins.

“The horse jumped fantastic, he made one major error and one minor error. He loved the ground.

“I’m very happy for (owner) Nick Peacock.

“It’s good that Gowran were able to put on two days with good prize-money in this current climate.

“I have to thank today’s sponsors PWC and the EBF for putting on two fillies’ races yesterday with almost 20,000 euros to the winner.

“We could look at the John Durkan and the Clonmel Oil with the winner, while the second-season chase in Down Royal might be the best option.”