Fakir D’oudairies was a very smooth winner of the Clonmel Oil Chase for Joseph O’Brien and Mark Walsh at Clonmel on Thursday.
Giving away race fitness to his rivals, the class of the 5/4 favourite nevertheless shone through.
He was up against the first two home from the Galway Plate in the Willie Mullins pair of Royal Rendezvous and Easy Game, as well as Gordon Elliott’s very capable Hardline.
On the official figures there was very little between all four runners, and on testing ground fitness could have been an issue.
But Fakir D’oudairies was a Grade 1 winner at Aintree last season, as well as finishing runner-up in the Ryanair Chase, and while the handicapper only had 4lb separating the favourite and the two Mullins runners, Walsh was always in total control on the six-year-old.
Having taken a lead off Royal Rendezvous until the second-last, Walsh gave his mount an inch of rein and he breezed on by, coming clear to win by 15 lengths.
Owner JP McManus’ racing manager Frank Berry said: “That was a good performance, he loves that ground and you couldn’t ask for better because the other horses were fit from the summer. He handles those conditions, which is a bonus.
“He was fit today, but hopefully he will improve.”
He added: “This or the John Durkan Chase were the only races he could go for and rather than going for the Durkan, this gives him a bit longer to Christmas now. He’ll have an entry in the King George and the Savills Chase over Christmas.
“You could only be pleased with him and we’re delighted.”
Mount Ida is to be aimed at the Randox Grand National following a winning reappearance in the T.A. Morris Memorial Irish EBF Mares Chase.
Mount Ida takes the T.A. Morris Memorial Irish EBF Mares Chase with authority!! ??— ClonmelRaces (@ClonmelR) November 11, 2021
A strong favourite - and justifiably as it turns out - in the hands of @_Davy_Russel_ for @gelliott_racing ?? pic.twitter.com/wvEl3d8yCP
Trained by Gordon Elliott, the seven-year-old was one of the more remarkable Cheltenham Festival winners in recent years when coming out on top in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup in March.
In danger of being tailed off in the early stages and jumping markedly out to her right, costing her more ground, Jack Kennedy eventually worked his way into the race and she went on to win easily.
There were no such dramas on this occasion for Davy Russell. Sent off the 6/5 favourite, Mount Ida cruised round and after taking up the running fully half a mile out, the only moment of worry coming with an awkward jump at the last.
But there was enough left in the tank to enable her to come home six and a half lengths clear of Scarlet And Dove.
“She did it really well and Davy is delighted with her. It is obviously her first appearance this season, but you couldn’t be happier and the main aim is the Grand National,” said Elliott’s assistant, Lisa O’Neill.
“She got a bit of a fright in the Kim Muir early on, but showed the talent she had with the way she won so decisively in the end.
“It was a nice performance today and great for the KTDA Syndicate who are fantastic people to have in the yard and have some great ammunition for the winter.”