Royal seal of approval
Stan James introduced impressive winner Royal De La Thinte into their RSA Chase betting at 25-1 following his success in the Punchestown Hospitality Beginners Chase.
Jim Dreaper's giant French-bred gelding set out to make all, as he had done on his last start when just reeled in by subsequent Grade One winner Bostons Angel.
He was allowed on easy time of it up front and jockey Andrew Lynch was still motionless on the 9-2 chance as they turned into the straight. The likes of Alpha Ridge, Ballymak and Some Target all tried to close but none made any impression as he ran out a 10-length winner.
Dreaper said: "I've been told by a few people that he is a real 'Dreaper' horse as he is slow but stays going!
"He is a very talented horse but I went with him to the start today as he refused to start in a point-to-point once. I'll enter him for the RSA Chase and the four-miler at Cheltenham and he may run next in a three-mile conditions race at Naas in a few weeks' time."
Willie Mullins and owner Rich Ricci suffered two expensive reverses over Christmas with the defeats of Zaidpour and Mikael D'Haguenet, but Blazing Tempo gave them some compensation by winning the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Lombardstown Mares Novice Chase.
Sent off the 9-10 favourite in the Grade Three event Paul Townend oozed confidence all the way before letting her have an inch of rein to beat Cool Quest by four lengths.
Mullins said: "She jumped better today over the bigger fences and seemed to have more respect for them. I was very happy with the way she came back to two miles from two and a half, and while I'll try to keep her to mares' races, she'll be entered in the better novice races too."
Luska Lad put up a very brave effort in defeat when narrowly denied by Four Chimneys in the Buy Your Tickets Online At www.punchestown.com Handicap Hurdle. He looked like making all but the concession of two stone to Willie Austin's charge, wearing blinkers for the first time, just proved too much.
Jumbo Rio benefited from having his sights lowered in the Follow Punchestown Facebook Hurdle. Sent off the 13-8 jolly, his task was made easier by the injury mid-race to Mullins' Secant Star. Andrew McNamara never looked unduly worried at any stage and drove him out to beat On The Way Out by a neck.