BRONN provided Willie Mullins with his 4,000th winner at Fairyhouse on Saturday although it was fellow Closutton resident Ashroe Diamond who produced the standout performance on the clock, confirming her place towards the head of the market for the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

It was not all plain sailing for the short-price favourite as an awkward jump at the second last set her on the backfoot and with work to do to secure a clear passage.

However, once in the clear, the six-year-old swept down the outside of her field to claim victory.

A final circuit time 4.5secs quicker than Found A Fifty supports the time figure and confirmed the pace was strong, despite Davy Russell’s best efforts to ride a race to suit Halka Du Tabert.

However, Gordon Elliott’s six-year-old held sway through the closing stages, covering the ground from the third last hurdle in 65.8secs, which was 1.6secs quicker than the Grade 3 winning mare.

Another mare to enhance her Cheltenham Festival claims was Echoes In Rain, whose effortless victory at Naas on Sunday backed up the promise of her Hatton’s Grace Hurdle run when she was creeping into contention when falling at the second last hurdle.


There was no such mishap on Sunday as Paul Townend was little more than a passenger in the saddle as the seven-year-old sauntered to victory in an equivalent time figure to Epatante, who won the previous day at Doncaster.

The other hurdle races on the card were very slow in comparison, which was largely due to the closing sectionals posted by Willie Mullins’ mare, who covered the ground from the third last in 61.7secs, with the next best on the card being Neveradullmoment whose late run yielded a finishing effort of 65.1secs.

The Grade 2 Chase which opened the card produced a similarly quick finish as, before being demoted to second, Ramillies posted a closing sectional for the third last fence 5.2secs faster than Aarons Day.

The difference between them over the final circuit stretched out to 7.2secs so it was only the formative stages of the opening race which prevented a much bigger time figure.