Christmas festivals got underway at both Leopardstown and Limerick on Saturday, with Willie Mullins-trained horses topping the boards.
At Leopardstown, Franco De Port, ridden by Bryan Cooper, stepped up on his debut fencing success to give trainer Willie Mullins a record seventh Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase.
Meanwhile, the big race at Limerick - the Novice Steeplechase - was won by another Willie Mullins trainee, with Colreevy guided home by his nephew Danny Mullins.
“That was a nice surprise. He jumped great and capitalised on the very fast early pace which seemed to catch out a lot of the runners,” Willie Mullins said of Franco De Port.
“Bryan was terrific, just keeping him together and keeping him jumping. He took what was left to him after they went too fast early on.
— Leopardstown RC (@LeopardstownRC) December 26, 2020
“He could stick at that trip, but you’d obviously look at a longer trip for him, maybe two and a half.
“I’d imagine the Dublin Racing Festival will be the plan, we’ll see how he comes out of this race today.”
He also had praise for the winning rider, saying: “Bryan is a top jockey who took his chance today and took it very well.
“We had a fair idea the way the race might work out. We played for that and it worked out.”
Also at Leopardstown, Zanahiyr also took his unbeaten jumping record to three when landing Grade Two honours in the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle, with trainer Gordon Elliott absent after testing positive for coronavirus.
At Limerick, Colreevy dug deep to land the Matchbook Betting Exchange Faugheen Novice Chase.
The mare was headed two out, but the 5-1 chance fought back gallantly to deny Gordon Elliott’s Pencilfulloflead by half a length in the Grade One feature.
The winner’s stablemate Asterion Forlonge was the 4-6 favourite, but blundered and exited the race five fences from home – one of two fallers among the five who set out.
Colreevy was taking her chasing record to two from two, and winning rider Danny Mullins said: “It was a good performance. She was always very good to jump at home from day one, and the aim today was a clear round and hopefully we’d be in the mix down over the last two.
“I knew she’d keep galloping – she is very tough, not fast – and once Paul (Townend, on Asterion Forlonge) fell, it opened things up.
“But it still wasn’t going to be easy from there – when the other horse (Pencilfulloflead) joined her it definitely helped.
“There is a good programme for mares nowadays, and the Flynns (owners) will be delighted because they will probably breed from her and she is now a Grade One winner in bumpers and over fences.”