Arvika stays in fast lane
Arkle next as Mullins' front-runner brings up double
THE Irish Arkle back at Leopardstown is the next port of call for Arvika Ligeonniere after he completed the second leg of a graded race double for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend at Leopardstown yesterday.
Mullins' front-running chaser now remains the proud holder of an unbeaten record over fences, a tally that reads three from three. And although it looked as if his early exploits might cost him at the death, winning rider Townend was insisting his horse was just idling in front.
For his hard work from the front and justification to those who made him the 9/10 favourite before the off, Arvika Ligeonniere held the rallying Oscars Well to record a two-and-a-half length success in the colours of present owner Rich Ricci.
Boylesports weren't overwhelmed by the performance however and pushed Arvika Ligeonniere out in the betting despite his win, going 7/1 from 6/1, while shortening Simonsig to 6/4 from 9/4.
The winning trainer said afterwards: "He missed the third last as Paul wanted an easy one and the horse kept going but he knew how to stand up.
"I was wondering was he getting tired but Paul said he was just idling in front. We'll come back here now for the Arkle in early February."
For the same connections of Mullins/Townend/Ricci, it was Blood Cotil in the Q8 OILS Juvenile Hurdle who instigated a double as he followed up his 17-lengths debut win with a solid display to see off Stocktons Wing.
Our Conor was a notable defector from the race as Dessie Hughes' two-time winner was found to be coughing on Christmas morning and was therefore withdrawn, but the form would suggest little between yesterday's winner and the absentee.
Stocktons Wing was a three-lengths second to Blood Cotil at Leopardstown yesterday afternoon and Our Conor was two-and-a-half lengths in front of the same horse at Fairyhouse earlier in the month.
"I'd be hoping he would be among the top rank of juvenile hurdlers in this country," Mullins said afterwards.
"He will probably have one more run before Cheltenham and I would imagine he will come back here for the Grade One Spring Hurdle. I think he would have learned a lot from his first run, including how to settle and he's a fine strong horse."
The opening two maiden hurdles were won by exciting sorts, with Ned Buntline winning the first for Noel Meade and Paul Carberry in the famous JP McManus colours and Anonis overcoming his obvious inexperience to oblige for Mags and Danny Mullins in the second.
Both are likely to go for novice hurdles next, while Colm Murphy produced a great training performance with Shariyan, who defied a lengthy absence in claiming the Q8 OILS Handicap Hurdle after almost a year off the track.