For the second week in a row, trainer Emmet Mullins won a major race cross-channel on Saturday when The Shunter won the £75,000 Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso.
The Paul Byrne-owned gelding won the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham in November, before reverting to fences to finish third in a handicap chase at Leopardstown’s Dublin Racing Festival.
Switching back to the the smaller obstacles for this £75,000 contest, The Shunter dug deep in the hands of Alain Cawley to see off Night Edition and Faivoir in a driving finish.
Mullins was at Navan, where he completed an across-the-card double with Noble Yeats in a maiden hurdle.
He said of The Shunter’s victory: “That was marvellous. It’s brilliant for Paul (Byrne, owner) as he’s put plenty of money into it and he has two nice horses there to look forward to.
"They went a ferocious gallop at Kelso and the pace collapsed halfway through. It turned into a war of attrition and ‘Squeaky’ (Cawley) was good and was strong on him.
“Anything we’ve asked the horse to do, he keeps coming up trumps for us. He’s a real star.
“Fingers crossed he’ll go to Cheltenham now. There is a huge bonus and it’s great to have a chance at it.
“I’d say we’ll have to take our chance once the horse is okay. He had a tough race there today, we’ll give him every chance to get over it and try to find one of the races in Cheltenham for him. He’s in plenty of them and we’ll keep all options open.”