WILLIE Mullins extended his dominance in the Goffs Thyestes Chase by registering a record-extending ninth success in the race with classy chaser Carefully Selected, who prevailed in a gripping finish in which Gordon Elliott provided the second, third, fourth, sixth and seventh.

Winning jockey Paul Townend was adamant to chart a wide course underneath the trees at Gowran Park and his tactics worked a treat aboard the 9/2 favourite. Mullins described the champion jockey’s efforts as being “as fine a ride as I ever saw around here to win a Thyestes”, with a short-head separating the winner and strong-staying second Dunboyne (25/1).

It was all the more impressive from Townend considering he had spent the previous days recovering from an illness, having missed out on a book of rides at Fairyhouse a day earlier.

It was also quite the training performance from Mullins as Carefully Selected, carrying the colours of Margaret Masterson, was only making his second start since returning from a 1,022-day layoff due to injury.

“The ride Paul gave him puts huge pressure on a jockey but he loves pressure and rides better with it,” said Mullins.

“I thought after they weren’t fluent at the third last that our winning chance had gone, but Paul just sat and sat, and gave him a breather. He produced him over two out and got a good jump at the last. I thought it was fantastic riding.

“Paul was obviously very sick recently - he’s been in bed for the last couple of days - so to come back and ride a race like that was huge in my mind. It was a huge performance from him and the horse. Paul had ridden him in his work the other day and knew what he had under the bonnet.

“I’m very pleased for Michael Masterson, who is on a roll but couldn’t travel over. He’ll be pleased with the result but disappointed he isn’t here - his pals will make up for it here at the track.”

Asked whether the Randox Grand National would be considered for the Well Chosen gelding, who finished runner-up to Relegate in the 2018 Champion Bumper, Mullins said: “You can certainly look at any of those staying chases now, but he has come back from a long layoff and for now we’ll celebrate the Thyestes. I’m delighted to win this race.

“It’s nice to have a good sponsor like Goffs to support these staying chases.There’s a tremendous crowd at Gowran and the track is in great shape. They have done a great job with an extraordinary crowd. There’s a lovely atmosphere and plenty of English visitors.”

Townend was recording his second win in the Gowran feature, having previously struck in 2014 aboard that season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up On His Own. Ladbrokes introduced Carefully Selected at 25/1 for the Randox Grand National.

Dunboyne’s rider Sam Ewing picked up a five-day whip ban for excessive frequency in the narrow defeat.

Teahupoo lays down a Stayers’ Hurdle marker <\section>

THERE may be question marks over some of the leading players in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle picture but the Gordon Elliott-trained Teahupoo left little doubt about his credentials for the Cheltenham Festival highlight after bolting up by 15 lengths on his first try at three miles in the Grade 2 John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle.

Davy Russell’s only ride of the day winged the final flight like a fresh horse, propelling himself into favouritism at 3/1 (from 7/1) for the Stayers’ Hurdle on the back of readily beating 2018 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Summerville Boy.

Teahupoo, representing owners Robcour, has now won eight of his 11 career starts, including a memorable defeat of Klassical Dream and Honeysuckle in this season’s Hatton’s Grace Hurdle.

Elliott said of the winning 4/11 favourite: “He’s going the right way and the plan is to go straight to the Stayers’. He disappointed in the Champion Hurdle there last year but I think he’s a different horse now. That was over two miles as well, and I’d say the longer distance is the key to him.

“Davy said he got there a bit soon because the horse is so laid-back early. You’d love the way he quickened from the second-last to the line - that was the best part.

“He handles testing going but [ground conditions] wouldn’t worry me much at the moment. I think he’ll be fine at three miles again and the Stayers’ Hurdle looks open this year.”

Cullentra stable jockey Jack Kennedy was seen at his very best on Teahupoo when pulling off a 20/1 upset in the Bar One Racing-backed Hatton’s Grace, and Elliott spared a thought for the sidelined rider after Thursday’s success.

Elliott said: “It’s great to have someone of Davy’s experience while Jack is out, but these horses will be here for him when he returns. Jack is my number one and hopefully there will be plenty for him to look forward to.”

Sir Gerhard survives scare on chasing bow at 1/6

WHAT looked to be a good opportunity for dual Cheltenham Festival winner Sir Gerhard to make a winning debut over fences in the three-runner Daly Farrell Chartered Accountants Beginners Chase proved to be just that as the 1/6 favourite brought up a double for Willie Mullins and Paul Townend.

There was a brief moment of significant concern, though, when the Cheveley Park Stud-owned eight-year-old made a bad mistake at the third fence. However, he got his act together and proved much too strong for the front-running Largy Debut and only other rival Battle Of Mirbat.

A Grade 1 winner over two miles and two miles and five furlongs, Sir Gerhard is not short of options when it comes to Cheltenham Festival targets. He is now priced between 5/1 and 8/1 for the Turners Novices’ Chase and a top-priced 7/1 for the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.

Mullins said: “My heart jumped when he stood so far back from the third fence. But that’s what novices do and it’s great to make that mistake early in the race because it puts manners on the horse. I think he jumped fine after that.

“I imagine he will go to Cheltenham with maybe just that run as I don’t see much else in the calendar for him. He could go for the Turners Novices’ Chase over two and a half miles or the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase over an extended three miles.

“They’ll be going that bit slower and it’ll give him a chance as an inexperienced horse. We’re not that well represented in the three-mile race yet but who knows what will happen.”

Local delight for Doyle

THERE was a popular winner to kick off proceedings as local trainer Eoin Doyle saddled Listenheretomejack to land a bit of a touch in the Langtons Kilkenny Handicap Hurdle under Denis O’Regan.

Available at 33/1 in the early markets before being sent off at 11/1, owner Martin Walsh’s homebred pulled out all the stops to deny a spirited effort from the Moses McCabe-trained Derridae.

Doyle said: “He had some time off and his last piece of work suggested he had improved from his first start back at Cork. Martin has been patient with him so I’m delighted to get a winner for him on a day like this.”

A cool ride from Aine O’Connor helped deliver a breakthrough success for the Arthur Moore-trained Hands Of Gold in the Connolly’s Red Mills Irish EBF Ladies Auction Maiden Hurdle.

J.P. McManus’ unexposed five-year-old - solid in the market at 100/30 - survived a scare at the second last when threatening to unship his rider. O’Connor never panicked, though, and gradually delivered a winning challenge to score by six lengths.

“He’s a grand horse, a big baby, and is developing both mentally and physically,” said Moore. “This race was ideal for him. We might have a look at the final of this series at the Punchestown Festival.”

’Extraordinary’ debut

TRAINER Tom Cooper is eyeing a tilt at the Listed Kevin McManus Bookmaker Champion Bumper at Limerick in March for D Art D Art after a winning introduction in the P.J. Foley Memorial Bumper for four-year-olds.

Only two of the eight runners arrived with experience and the finish was dominated by a pair of newcomers, with the Ciaran Mooney-owned winner and Jerisk Star, representing Liz Doyle, pulling well clear of the field.

D Art D Art, who traded as big as 69/1 in the in-running markets, found extremely generously for Patrick Mullins urgings to score by a length after coming off the bridle earlier than his main rival.

“I thought it was all over at one stage but he’s just so laid-back,” said Cooper. “After the line, he went down the back and Patrick couldn’t pull him up. It was an extraordinary performance.”

In-form Diva delivers again

THE well-bred Walk In The Park mare Bluebell Diva registered her second win in the space of three starts when staying on determinedly to land the Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Hurdle at 7/2 under Gavin Brouder for owner-breeder Margaret Casey.

Winning trainer Mouse Morris said of the improving six-year-old: “She’s progressing nicely. This was over two and a half miles and I think she’ll probably get further now. The penny is starting to drop. She has a beautiful pedigree and looks a valuable mare.”