No decision on Golden target
The punters graveyard that is Naas Racecourse wasn't so bad yesterday for those who followed the champion trainer Willie Mullins as he saddled a four-timer, with Golden Silver the highlight.
Cheltenham-bound Golden Silver put in an almost perfect round of jumping to easily account for Made In Taipan in the feature paddypower.com Chase and put his final preparations to bed for an assault on the Cotswolds next month.
Despite having never won over further than 2m1f, Golden Silver remains in the Ryanair Chase with Mullins set to delay his decision until nearer the Festival. "I will wait to see what the ground does before deciding which race to run him in," Mullins said following the facile victory.
"If it was to come up soft he would run in the Champion Chase and if it was to be lively ground he'd probably go for the Ryanair -- although the more I think of it, the more I'm inclined to go for the Champion Chase as he has never won over further than two miles and one furlong."
Golden Silver has now won four of his five starts since Fairyhouse in December and is as short as 8/1 with Boylesports for the Champion Chase and as big as 12/1 with Paddy Power, while he is a general 10/1 shot for the Ryanair.
The other of the Willie Mullins' winners from yesterday that could be on the boat to Cheltenham was bumper winner Samain who completed a treble for champion owners Gigginstown House Stud.
The 7/4 joint favourite had four and a half lengths to spare as he claimed a second bumper success and earned a place at the Festival according to the trainer, although he admitted he will have to twist the owners arm before he is a confirmed runner in the Champion Bumper.
"That was a very good bumper coming here today and that is up to scratch with any bumper horse that has won here this season," said the winning trainer.
"He is better going left handed and the ground must not be too bad as he is a good ground horse."
Paddy Power cut the winner from 25/1 to 10/1 for the Champion Bumper.
Proceedings got underway with the opening leg of Mullins' four-timer and Townend treble as Johnny McGeeney impressed in the maiden hurdle and he will now be aimed at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival, while Dare To Doubt, who won the Grade Two Novice Hurdle, is also set to stay at home this year and more likely to go to Limerick for a valuable mares hurdle next.
Gigginstown's Roi Du Mee justified favouritism and survived a lengthy stewards enquiry to take the Woodlands Park 100 Nas Na Riogh Novices Chase for Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell and the Powers Gold Cup could be next for him, while Rivage D'Or will now head for the Pertemps Final after leading home a Dessie Hughes 1-2 in the handicap hurdle.