Mullins ace far from flat out
Flat Out showed he has the potential to take high rank in the novice chasing division with an easy victory on his fencing debut at Punchestown.
But the Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old, fifth in last season's Supreme Novices' Hurdle and runner-up in the Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle, gave favourite-backers a real scare.
Emmet Mullins set off in front in the 59 Euro Punchestown Hospitality Beginners Chase and had the opposition cooked as they turned into the straight, but the 11-10 shot made a hash of the final fence and almost came down before hacking up by 13 lengths.
The trainer's representative Harold Kirk said: "He'll come back in trip now for the Arkle at Leopardstown (January 23). This horse could go over any trip and we think a fair bit of him."
The afternoon's feature race, the Visit punchestown.com Juvenile Hurdle (Grade Three) went to the Mouse Morris-trained Tillahow (9-2) after a battling display.
Favourite Fearless Falcon tried to make all and dug deep when challenged, and it took a forceful ride from Davy Russell to get Tillahow in front by a neck as they duelled for the line, with Chaperoned close up in third.
Morris said: "He was good today - he left that Limerick form (second to Mister Carter, who was fourth here) behind him. He jumped much better. I have no time for those hurdles (Easyfix) that they in use in Limerick. I have no real plans for the horse now."
There was a turn-up in the Dr Maire O'Connor Memorial Hurdle when the odds-on Blackstairmountain emptied quickly on the run-in after appearing to have the race won and was short-headed close home by Rick (15-8) .
Winning trainer Dessie Hughes said of the seven-year-old: "That was a good performance as Paddy (Flood) said he was hating the ground and didn't jump on it, but he has a bit of class."
Willie Mullins bagged his 50th winner of the season when Samain (8-13 favourite) proved too good in the concluding bumper under his son Patrick. It was the trainer's first winner with the first horse he has trained in the famous Gigginstown House Stud colours.