Weld lands big Leopardstown prize
Classy filly Unaccompanied showed the boys the way home with an impressive performance in the Istabraq Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown.
The four-year-old was a Grade One winner at the track in February before going on to fill the runner-up spot in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham.
She headed back to the Foxrock venue following a Listed hurdle win at Naas and beat a clutch of high-class performers with something to spare under a fine Paul Townend ride.
Thousand Stars was the even-money favourite for Willie Mullins in the absence of stable star Hurricane Fly, but under a waiting ride from Ruby Walsh, he was unable to match Unaccompanied (100-30) when she quickened for home.
Dermot Weld's filly cruised into the home straight before picking up Oscars Well on the run to the final flight, after which she pulled clear for a one-and-a-half-length victory. Thousand Stars finished off his race to good effect, but it was only enough to claim the runner-up spot.
Weld said: "She's a very good mare and is only a four-year-old. She beat St Nicholas Abbey in the Alleged Stakes on the Flat.
"I was concerned I was throwing her in the deep end against proven horses. The second is a very solid high-class horse. She answered the call.
"She jumps super and that's a huge help. She has the will to win and I was always quietly confident she would run a very good race - my only concern was inexperience.
"I was a little concerned about the showers as she has loads of pace and maybe her stamina may have been found out, but she stayed well.
"The Irish Champion Hurdle in a month's time is the logical step. If everything went well we'll look at the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham."