There was a major shock in Leopardstown's paddypowerpoker.com Future Champions Novice Hurdle when Willie Mullins' Zaidpour could finish only second behind First Lieutenant (16-1).
An effortless winner of the Royal Bond Hurdle on his last start, Zaidpour was one of the favourites for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle in March. However, the French import never travelled with the same fluency as he had at Fairyhouse and Paul Townend was niggling some way out.
Hidden Cyclone set the pace, but Davy Russell stalked him on the well-regarded First Lieutenant and it was Mouse Morris' five-year-old who hit the front after the last. Zaidpour (1-4 favourite) was closing with every stride but went down by a neck.
Morris explained the winner came back from his last run at Fairyhouse with sore shins, with that meeting having been abandoned halfway through.
"They treated him for sore shins as the track wasn't in very good condition the last day, he nearly fell down three times," he said.
"There was nowhere else to run him, really. There was a winners-of-one at Limerick but Michael (O'Leary, owner) said why not have a crack at this. We'd have been happy with second, third or fourth.
"He won't be the best horse I've ever had but he'll be 10 times better over fences. If he goes to Cheltenham it will be either over two and a half or three miles."
Mullins was disappointed with Zaidpour, but said the race may have just come a bit too soon after his win in the Royal Bond two weeks ago.
'Shark' Hanlon was thrilled with the third-placed Hidden Cyclone, adding: "He's been beaten less than a length in a Grade One and will be much better over two and a half miles. He'll come back here for the two and a quarter mile novice in about a month's time."