Mourad overturns Mikael in Boyne
Mikael D'Haguenet was floored by his Willie Mullins-trained stablemate Mourad in the Ladbrokes Boyne Hurdle at Navan.
Sent off at 4-11, all looked to be going well for the resurgent Mikael D'Haguenet when he made smooth progress to take closer order just after halfway.
Mourad, meanwhile, had been in the firing line from flag-fall and it became apparent after jumping the third-last that Mikael D'Haguenet was struggling to pick him up. So it proved as Mourad (3-1) and Paul Townend pinged the last to stretch six and a half lengths clear at the line.
Mullins, winning his first Boyne Hurdle, said: "Mourad had been disappointing this year and I didn't think he was back to his form, so we said we'd change tactics today and decided to make a lot more use of him.
"He seemed to enjoy it a lot better and it didn't do his travelling plans any harm (for the World Hurdle at Cheltenham).
"I'm disappointed with Mikael D'Haguenet. I'll have to think of plans now for him. On ratings there wasn't much between the two of them, but the other fellow just found his form this year for the first time."
Paddy Power make Mourad a 14-1 chance for the World Hurdle at Cheltenham, while Stan James go 16-1 from 33-1.
Stan James spokesman Joseph Burke said: "Willie Mullins now trains a quite amazing six of the first 10 in the betting for the World Hurdle and whilst Big Buck's remains the 1-2 favourite, Mourad was only four and a half lengths behind him last year, so he must have an each-way chance again."