Zaidpour makes it look easy
Zaidpour stamped his class on the Ladbrokes Ireland Lismullen Hurdle at Navan as part of a big-race treble for champion trainer Willie Mullins.
A three-time Grade One winner but not always the most reliable of individuals, Zaidpour was an 8-13 favourite for his first start since finishing sixth in the French Champion Hurdle in June and Ruby Wa lsh kept things simple, allowing his mount to stride on at the head of affairs.
He gradually increased the tempo with a ll four runners travelling strongly rounding the home turn, and Zaidpour began to assert between the final two flights before being ridden out after the last to take the two-and-a-half-mile Grade Two test by a comfortable two and a half lengths.
Noble Endeavor finished strongly to pip Darwins Fox to the runner-up spot, while Pittoni finished last of the four on his first start in almost 1,000 days.
Mullins, also successful with Mckinley and Twinlight, said: "It was straightforward and the conditions of the race suited. I thought the ground was probably still too good for him and Ruby said he felt it a bit.
"We'll motor on and the Hatton's Grace (Fairyhouse, November 30) looks the obvious thing to do now. He'll go three miles the first opportunity we get. Three miles on soft ground is what we want with him.
"Hopefully he'll improve a bit, but he is good fresh and is best early in the season."
Following his successes aboard Zaidpour and Twinlight, Walsh completed his own treble on the afternoon as he steered Tony Martin's Gallant Oscar to success in the Ladbrokes On Course Ireland Handicap Hurdle.
Rated almost 30lb lower over the smaller obstacles than over fences, Gallant Oscar had obvious claims and was heavily supported as the even-money favourite. Walsh played his cards late, delivering his mount to lead after the final flight, and he battled to victory by a length and three-quarters over Mallards In Flight.
Martin said: "It's great to start back with a win under his belt. We thought he had a good chance in the Irish National, but unfortunately he unseated. His form from Naas had been franked before that. He'll improve a bit off that and go back over fences now."
Harvey Logan edged ahead in a thrilling climax to the St Johann Ski Resort Tirol Austria Handicap Hurdle.
Noel Meade's five-year-old was the 6-4 favourite to follow up last month's Naas victory and was ridden patiently by Niall Madden even though Miradane briefly looked to have flown as he left the back straight with a big lead.
The gap was whittled away quickly in the straight and it eventually came down to a three-way fight between Harvey Logan, Luddsdenene and Mind The Pennies, and it was Meade's charge who won the argument by three-quarters of a length.
The trainer said: "That's just about what he is. The handicapper put him up 8lb and that nearly put him out. He just got there and I couldn't see him carrying much more. He needed to stay at the end and he did. He also needed a good jump at the last and got it. W e don't have any fancy ideas with him."