Sir Des swoops to score
Sir Des Champs emerged as a major player for the novice chase events at the Cheltenham Festival when showing class and courage to win the Boylesports.com Bet On Your Mobile Novice Chase at Leopardstown.
Unbeaten since joining Willie Mullins, the even-money scorer already has a win at Prestbury Park on his record but looked booked for third after making a mistake at the last in the Grade Two event.
Fists Of Fury, owned like the winner by Gigginstown House Stud, and Hidden Cyclone were fighting out the finish, but Davy Russell galvanised his mount to win by a cosy half-length.
Mullins said: "I'm delighted with that, he is a serious machine. He made a few errors there, but he galloped on nicely from the last. He is improving slowly and he'll go for one of the staying novice chases at Cheltenham - either the Jewson or the RSA."
Russell added: "He was bit lazy throughout, but he jumped great. He got in a little bit tight to the last, but he is a clever horse and he fiddled it. I only had to give him one slap and we were always going to get there. I like him, I like him plenty and anything from two and a half miles up will be fine for him."
Mullins had also won the first two races on the card and both runners have Festival aspirations. Darroun (7-4) could head for the Triumph after winning the Leopardstown.com Maiden Hurdle by one and a quarter lengths.
"He'll jump a fence in time. Paul (Townend) really got him jumping today and he seems to be more confident jumping on better ground. He'll go for the Triumph," said Mullins.
Aupcharlie (2-1 favourite) then finally broke his maiden and may have the Albert Bartlett on his agenda after winning the ITBA Expo 2012 Maiden Hurdle under Andrew Lynch.