Gala Marceau locked horns with fellow Willie Mullins-trained mare Lossiemouth on several occasions last season, coming out on top at the Dublin Racing Festival before her esteemed stablemate turned the tables in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham and confirmed the form at Punchestown.

Gala Marceau did though round off her campaign with a top-level win in France, and while she was beaten by another Mullins mare in Ashroe Diamond on her return to action at Doncaster late last month, she was widely expected to get back on the winning trail at Grade Three level on home soil.

Ridden by Paul Townend, the 2-7 shot travelled well for much of the of the two and a half mile contest, but was being ridden along before the home turn and soon emptied in the ultra-testing conditions.

Saylavee, also trained by Mullins, did her best to make a race of it with Henry de Bromhead’s 11-2 chance Hispanic Moon, but the latter kicked eight lengths clear in the hands of Darragh O’Keeffe.

Coral reacted by trimming Hispanic Moon’s odds for the Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival to 16-1 from 50-1, while easing Gala Marceau to 12-1 from 7-1. Lossiemouth is the 1-2 favourite.

That was great

Robbie Power, the winning trainer’s race planner, said: “That was great. She was impressive here back in November and I don’t know what went wrong at Christmas, there was no real excuse for her, she just didn’t run her race for some reason.

“That was much more like it today and Darragh knew himself after jumping two hurdles that she was back to herself. She was a different mare, she travelled and jumped really well. She winged the last and went from there to the winning post with her two ears pricked.

“Hopefully there is a bit more in the locker. She’s in the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and we’ll see how she comes out of this, we might take a punt.

“You’d have to be tempted after that, she’s beaten Saylavee a lot easier than she did here back in November.”

Of the market leader, Mullins said: “Paul thought she ran a bit keen and she was very disappointing, especially after her promising run in Doncaster.

“I haven’t seen anything wrong with her yet, but she was blowing quite hard when she came in. Unfortunately it’s one of those things.”