Ferbet another for Mullins team
Willie Mullins dominated the Fairyhouse card with a four-timer including the victory of Val De Ferbet on his fencing debut in the Promote Your Business At Fairyhouse In 2015 Beginners Chase.
Prominent all the way under Ruby Walsh, he led two out, where nearest pursuer Thunder And Roses fell, leaving the way clear for a three-and-a-quarter-length victory over 2-1 favourite Noble Emperor.
Mullins, who had already struck with Un De Sceaux, said of the 3-1 winner: "It was a very good performance. He jumped like a handicapper and was gaining lengths at his fences.
"Obviously he'll have to go up in grade now. I was thinking he was more of a three-mile horse, but after today's performance I think he could come back in trip if a nice race presents itself. We'll just try and find the right race for him over two and a half or three miles."
French import Arbre De Vie then made a winning start in Ireland in the Fairyhouse Membership 2015 Maiden Hurdle.
Walsh, completing his own treble, sat just off the pace in fourth before leading three out, going clear of Catalaunian Fields and maintaining that advantage to the line to reward those who sent him off the 2-5 favourite.
Mullins said: "He's more of a stayer. He gallops and jumps. I'll probably go out further in trip with him and he might go for a two-mile-six or something when we are ready to see him back. He looks like a staying chaser. It's all staying in his pedigree."
The handler went on to a four-timer when expensive purchase Stone Hard (4-7 favourite) took charge going to the final furlong in the concluding bumper and powered clear to win by three and three-quarter lengths in the hands of Patrick Mullins.
Mullins snr said: "He's a real big chasing type and has a great cruising speed. He'll probably stick to bumpers this year. He doesn't do anything flashy, but he gallops all day. That performance was good enough for me to get an entry (for Cheltenham). Patrick said he was idling but he was in control the whole time and had a lot in the tank."
There was a reverse for the all-conquering team as the odds-on Uradel had to settle for fourth in the Book Online At fairyhouse.ie 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle, which went the way of 5-1 newcomer Thunder Zone.
The Gordon Elliott-trained winner joined long-timer leader Uradel at the second-last and soon asserted going to the final flight.
Ring Chief tried to make a race of it, but Kevin Sexton's mount stayed on well, coming home with three lengths in hand.
The handler said: "He doesn't show a lot at home and I'd say he likes that soft ground. I'm not sure how strong a race it was, but he did the job nicely. He'll come on a little bit with his jumping.
" He's in at Leopardstown next week in all those races. The juveniles don't look the strongest, so it wouldn't be a big surprise if he turned out again."
Blackandamber Vic (33-1) romped away with the New Years Day Racing At Fairyhouse Handicap Hurdle under Andrew Lynch, while Abolitionist (12-1) led two out in the hands of Brian Hayes and stayed on strongly to win the Merry Christmas From Fairyhouse Handicap Hurdle.