John just the job for De Bromhead
An eventful renewal of the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown went the way of Sizing John.
Willie Mullins saddled the odds-on favourite in Nichols Canyon, who was already a Grade One winner, but he was an early casualty as he unseated Ruby Walsh, and stablemate Mckinley was pulled up shortly afterwards when racing in second place.
Sizing John (11-1), highly regarded by Henry de Bromhead, made all under Johnny Burke and sprinted away from his two remaining rivals in the straight to beat Sub Lieutenant by six and a half lengths.
The silver lining for Mullins was that his Douvan beat the winner easily when they met earlier in the season.
It capped a great 10 minutes for De Bromhead, who had just captured the Desert Orchid Chase with Special Tiara at Kempton.
"There were a few incidents but it's great to win and a nice bonus. Our lad nearly ran out when the loose horse came by him. I'm delighted for Johnny as it's his first Grade One win," said the trainer.
"I was disappointed with him at Gowran, but they told me Douvan is very highly regarded. I always thought he wanted better ground and the plan was to back off him after this and look to the spring."
Teenager Burke said: "I've had two Grade Two winners, but that's my first Grade One.
"He did it well. I've always held him in high regard, ever since the first day I saw him. I remember riding against him in a bumper in Limerick one day and he always stuck in my mind since that day. He was very impressive in Naas and, to be fair, he bumped into a well above-average horse in Gowran (Douvan), and he's proved himself today at the highest level.
"I wasn't aware of what was going on behind but when I saw the loose horse come by me as we turned into the back straight, I knew that was Ruby's then, so that was our main danger gone.
"I was keen to make it a test in front and he's done it the hard way. He had to go out in front and make his own race of it - that's tough old going for a four-year-old, and on that ground, too. He will improve as he's only a four-year-old and he's big as well, so wait until he sees a fence."
Des McDonogh unleashed a second smart debutant in the space of two days as Theophilus made a smooth introduction to the winter game in the Paddy Power 'Number 1 For Live Streaming' 3-Y-O Hurdle.
Just 24 hours after Fiscal Focus made a winning big-race start at 33-1, lowering the colours of Willie Mullins' well-fancied Kalkir, Theophilus was sent off at just 4-1 in the same Jackie Bolger silks.
No great shakes on the Flat, he travelled well and when another Mullins odds-on shot, Buiseness Sivola, faded at the top of the straight, Theophilus kept on willingly to beat a couple of fellow newcomers in Hostile Fire and Battle Hymn by six and a half lengths in the hands of Danny Mullins.
McDonogh said "He got a superb ride from Danny. He was idling a bit in front and will be better in a better race. At the moment the two of them (including Fiscal Focus) will be aimed at the Triumph. Fiscal Focus is different gravy. I must say I am in awe of him. I may need a double horsebox now for Cheltenham!"
There was a big turn-up in the Paddy Power Maiden Hurdle as Champion Bumper winner Silver Concorde was made to look ordinary by Blair Perrone.
Tony Martin's five-year-old was beaten a long way on his hurdling debut at Cork but looked a different proposition in the hands of Denis O'Regan, who was initiating a double for the yard.
Silver Concorde, a winner on the level since his Cheltenham success, was not fluent at the last for Davy Russell but such was Blair Perrone's superiority, it is unlikely the blunder had any bearing on the result. The 10-1 chance came home two unextended lengths clear of the 1-3 favourite.
Martin said: "He needed the run badly at Cork the last day. He's always showed us he's a good horse at home. The plan was to stalk the favourite and hopefully take him on as late as possible, and it worked out perfect. He's a big horse and will make a chaser."