Sea makes Clonmel splash
Tranquil Sea, last season's Paddy Power Gold Cup winner, started his new campaign in fine style with victory in the Clonmel Oil Chase.
Edward O'Grady's charge was well suited by the conditions of the race as he would have been giving plenty of weight away in a handicap.
The 10-11 favourite travelled well for Andrew McNamara behind the pace-setting Let Yourself Go and took it up at the second-last fence effortlessly. Two smart leaps put the race to bed, while Let Yourself Go showed a fine attitude to fend off Scotsirish for second, two lengths away.
McNamara said: "I was pleased with that. I didn't know how the horse in front of me was going, I didn't know if he was cantering or had nothing and I went by him a little easier than I expected, but he had a run around going to the last. It was a bit of lairiness, it's not the first time he's done that in front. I'd say he'd come on for the run.
"I think two and a half miles is his trip. He's won a Grade One over hurdles over that trip and a Paddy Power over two-five. If you win a Paddy Power you are not far off a Grade One horse so hopefully he can win one this year."
O'Grady added: "He established that he can at least go right-handed now. That was one of today's objectives. The logical step now is to go for the John Durkan at Punchestown. It is the right trip for the horse, and he will have a run under his belt. I hope that he's at least as good if not better than last season."
Blazing Tempo made her first start for Willie Mullins a winning one in the EBF T.A. Morris Memorial Mares Chase.
Formerly with Willie Austin, the six-year-old now runs in the colours of American Rich Ricci, made famous by Mikael D'Haguenet. Paul Townend got her in a nice rhythm towards the rear and although the favourite For Bill loomed large behind Cool Quest, it was Blazing Tempo (7-2) who saw it out best.
Mullins said: "I'm a bit surprised she won as all of mine are running like they need the run. Paul said she was not happy on the ground and would prefer it a lot better. I have no real plan as we were not expecting to win but she will keep to mares company."