No doubting Thomas at Galway
For the third day running Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh teamed up to take the opening race at Galway, this time with Thomas Hobson in the Tote 100,000 Euro Pick6 Guarantee Maiden Hurdle.
A faller on his debut for Mullins, he was s oon at the head of affairs, but there was a scare or two approaching the business end, in particular two out, and he was pressed hard from the last by Stuccodor.
But in the end the 11-10 favourite, who was a smart handicapper on the Flat for John Gosden, proved too strong, taking the two-mile contest by four lengths.
Mullins said: "He improved his jumping a lot, but there is still a bit more to do.
"We decided to take the game to the others. There were a couple of maidens in the field with a few runs and we wanted to make it a test of stamina.
"We were happy that his jumping was better, it appeared to be at home and was for most of the race.
"We decided to ride him differently and let him off up there. There didn't appear to be much pace and we were happy to make it. We let him enjoy himself and he did.
"I was disappointed with what he did three out and that seemed to knock his confidence at the second-last.
"He could go back on the Flat as there are very few novice races in the near future."
Jockey Mark Enright struck for the second time this week as he produced Lilly The Lioness (8-1) to perfection in the Download The Tote Mobile App European Breeders Fund Mares Handicap Hurdle.
Dazzing Susie cut out much of the early running before being joined by Supreme Vic and that pair jumped two out just in front.
Enright and Lilly The Lioness soon appeared on the scene, however, and powered to the front going to the last.
Showing a willing attitude from there, the Garrett Power-trained winner had enough in reserve to hold the fast-finishing 11-2 co-favourite Crystal Earth by a length and a quarter.
Power said: "She has a heart like a lion. Things didn't go according to plan. She hung and didn't jump 100 per cent.
"Mark gave her a brilliant ride and she's a tough, gutsy mare.
"I thought I'd missed my chance in this race last year and it's great to get a second chance.
"She's first reserve in a Flat race here tomorrow and is in on Friday in a handicap hurdle.
"That's my first winner as a trainer here, although I did ride a winner here."