Unaccompanied out on her own
Classy filly Unaccompanied showed the boys the way home with an impressive performance in the Istabraq Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown yesterday.
The four-year-old was a Grade One winner at this track in February before going on to fill the runner-up spot in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham. She also secured a Listed prize on the Flat in April, when she had none other than Breeders' Cup winner St Nicholas Abbey in behind.
Unaccompanied headed back to the Foxrock venue following a Listed hurdle win at Naas and beat a clutch of high-class hurdlers with something to spare under a fine Paul Townend ride.
Last month's Morgiana Hurdle winner Thousand Stars was the even-money favourite for Willie Mullins, in the absence of his stable star Hurricane Fly.
But under a waiting ride from Ruby Walsh, he was unable to match Unaccompanied when she quickened for home.
Dermot Weld's filly cruised into the home straight before picking up Oscars Well on the run to the final flight, after which she pulled clear for a one-and-a-half-length victory. Thousand Stars finished off his race to good effect, but it was only enough to claim the runner-up spot.
Weld said: "She's a very good mare and is only a four-year-old. She beat St Nicholas Abbey in the Alleged Stakes on the Flat.
"I was concerned I was throwing her in the deep end against proven horsesbut she answered the call. The Irish Champion Hurdle in a month's time is the logical step. If everything goes well we'll look at the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham."
Unaccompanied is now 12-1 from 25-1 with Stan James for the the Cheltenham race in March.
Well-supported Glam Gerry (13-8 favourite) continued trainer Colm Murphy's fine week by landing a gamble in the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase, while Jetson (12-1) struck for Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power in the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle.