Rest of card

IT was another milestone day in the career of Willie Mullins as an across-the-card seven-timer saw him set a new record for most winners trained in a single Irish National Hunt season.

In a little piece of symmetry, it was on these Easter Sunday cards last year that the Closutton maestro broke his previous best record of winners in a season, 212, when rattling off eight winners between the two cards - his biggest haul in a single day’s racing.

Last season ended with Mullins setting a new record of 237 winners, and - with still more than a month to go in the current campaign - he passed that marker during the Easter window.

As well as scooping a Grade 1 on the card, the champion trainer notched up two Grade 2 winners in his Fairyhouse five-timer.

The highly-touted Mirazur West was cut to 14/1 (from 20/1) for next year’s Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival following a dominant front-running win in the two-mile Grade 2 Donohue Marquees Novice Hurdle for J.P. McManus and Mark Walsh.

Mullins said of the 9/4 winning favourite: “It was a good performance. Mark changed tactics today and it seemed to make a big difference to the horse. He likes to jump and gallop and looks tailor-made for novice chasing next year.

“After the disappointment of being beaten last time at Naas, it was nice for him to come out and do that and we’ll look and see what’s left for him for the rest of the season.”

Cody collects

Jody Townend capitalised on a big opportunity in the Grade 2 Paddy Kehoe Suspended Ceilings Novice Hurdle over two and a half miles when Captain Cody provided her with a first win against professional riders over obstacles for Mullins.

The same stable’s Anotherway, ridden by the winning jockey’s brother Paul, looked to be travelling strongly when taking a crashing fall at the second last, and that made the task easier for the well-backed 17/2 winner, who carries the colours of Vincent Caldwell, Angela Shamoon and Mrs A Shamoon Ibgi.

“Jody kept her horse out of trouble, kept him balanced and jumping, all the things you’d want in a young jockey,” said Mullins.

“She’s always there, rides winners all the time for us. When you consider how light she is, she must have to carry a stone and a half of lead every day.”

Impressive Kopek

Testing ground made it difficult for horses to be wildly impressive on the card, and that should have especially applied to unraced four-year-olds making their bumper debut.

Mullins’ Kopek Des Bordes did not read that script, however, and pulverised his rivals to run out a most impressive winner of the €100,000 Tattersalls Ireland George Mernagh Memorial Sales Bumper for owners Monabeg Investments Limited.

Patrick Mullins rode the €130,000 No Risk At All store purchase with coolness and the response was extremely taking when he asked the 15/8 favourite to open up and win by 13 lengths from British raider Clap Of Thunder, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies.

“He’s a lovely type for the future,” said the winning trainer.

“He worked well at home and showed today that his homework was right. We’ll see if we go to Punchestown; maybe not as it might be too much to ask him.”

Boy bounces back

It was a massive turnaround in fortunes for 8/11 favourite Rath Gaul Boy in the opening two-mile Ryan’s Cleaning Maiden Hurdle, scoring decisively for Mullins, Paul Townend and the ownership group of Sullivan Bloodstock Ltd, Neill Hughes and Pat Crowley.

Less than four weeks earlier, the former useful bumper performer had pulled up at Leopardstown and returned with slightly blood-stained bilateral nasal discharge, as well as having coughed.

This was a much different display from the seven-year-old. He travelled strongly and had the race in his pocket when delivering a bold leap at the last on his way to a 12-length rout.

Assistant trainer David Casey said: “He improved from Leopardstown and did it well. He’s one to keep on the go during the summer and we’ll probably find something for him in the next couple of weeks.”

Gutsy Nephew nails it for Rothwell team

WHILE Willie Mullins’ fingerprints were all over the Easter Sunday cards, there was also a healthy spread of smaller-scale trainers getting on the scoresheet over the weekend at Fairyhouse and that theme continued when Philip Rothwell landed the Listed BoyleSports Novice Handicap Chase with Captain’s Nephew.

James O’Sullivan, sporting the colours of Tom Doran, was always close to the pace and that may have been a key ingredient to the success, with nothing getting involved from behind.

A sustained duel developed between the 10/1 winner and front-running Mount Frisco, but half a length separated the pair at the line. The stewards held an inquiry post race into “minor interference” to the runner-up, though they left the places unchanged as the winner “did not improve his finishing position as a result of the interference”.

Rothwell said: “Tom has been a huge supporter and I’m delighted for him. The tongue-tie slipped on this horse at Thurles the last day and he didn’t see out his race. Maybe the ground was too quick for him. His form up to then was mighty and this race was the aim for a while.”

Lyreen lords it

Gordon Elliott doubled his tally at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival when Lucky Lyreen stuck to his task well under top-weight to land the two-and-a-half-mile Cawley Furniture Novice Handicap Hurdle for the Lyreen Syndicate.

The €20,000 contest looked to be in the melting pot before Buachaillbocht made a momentum-costing mistake at the last, and the 17/2 winner was able to keep up the gallop sufficiently to score by three quarters of a length.

Elliott said: “We were a bit fortunate with the runner-up making a mistake but we were in front plenty soon enough. He will a jump a fence in time.”