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So easy for Mullins ace

The highly-regarded So Young continued his fine start to the campaign with a routine victory in the Horse And Jockey Hotel Hurdle at Thurles.

The Willie Mullins-trained French import was sent off favourite for Grade One novice hurdles at both of the big Festivals at Cheltenham and Punchestown in the spring, but failed to grab the glory.

Following a confidence-boosting comeback victory at Punchestown last month, the five-year-old was sent off the 1-8 favourite to follow up in this Listed contest and the result was never in doubt.

Ruby Walsh set the pace throughout the two-mile journey and with his opponents toiling from the home turn, So Young came home hard on the bridle to record a six-length win over Noras Fancy.

Mullins said: "He did it nicely. He'll go for races with a trip and will probably get an entry for the World Hurdle - that's the direction I'm going.

"As the ground dries out he should need a trip. There is a Grade Two at Naas towards the end of January. That's a possible but I may have others for that also."

Champion trainer Mullins was expected to complete a double in the concluding Curaheen (Pro/Am) Flat Race, but his 2-5 favourite Douneve had to make do with the runner-up spot behind Tidy Zag.

The market leader was sent into a clear lead in the early stages by the trainer's son Patrick Mullins, but 11-1 chance Tidy Zag claimed him on the home turn and stayed on strongly on his first start in almost a year to score by six lengths.

It was remarkably trainer James Grace's first winner since Nuala's Pet (the dam of Mick The Man) won in 1993.

Grace said: "I only renewed my licence a year ago as things are quiet in the business I'm in. I had a licence 10 years ago. I own Mick The Man and also have his dam. It's a relief to win with this lad. We've no real plans - today was the plan - but he'll probably go hurdling."


From Belfast Telegraph