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Blackstair books Japan ticket

Paul Townend timed it to perfection to get Blackstairmountain back to winning ways in the McCarthy Insurance Group Hurdle at Cork.

A Grade One winner over timber as a novice, he also reached the same heights over fences last season but tends to struggle against the best when the mud is flying, so Willie Mullins is now eyeing up a race in Japan.

Fosters Cross made sure it was a real test and Davy Condon was allowed an easy lead in front, with his advantage still around 10 lengths turning into the long home straight.

Blackstairmountain (4-7 favourite) began to eat into his lead after the third-last and as the leader tired, Townend pounced and even Arnaud passed Fosters Cross in the end with the favourite winning by three-quarters of a length.

"We'll keep it to those type of races with him until the ground gets better. We're going to aim him at the Nakayama Grand Jump in Japan in April," said Mullins, who went on to land a treble.

"The ground conditions over there will suit him and he's a Grade One horse. He's the only one I have for the race, although it will be quite costly to send him out there."

Townend added: "He was the horse to beat but was made to work. The ground was probably a bit dead for him."


From Belfast Telegraph