Bryan Cooper enjoyed a cracking start to the Leopardstown Christmas Festival when securing the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase aboard the Willie Mullins-trained Franco De Port (8/1).
The day one feature was action-packed with stablemate Blackbow an early faller, but Franco De Port travelled menacingly into the straight before picking off eventual second Darver Star to come home four and a half lengths clear.
Mullins has farmed the Grade One prize and added his sixth success in the past decade while it was another bumper day for the Closutton maestro as he landed a 152/1 double after Dysart Diamond (16/1) earlier took the Holden Plant Rentals Novice Handicap Hurdle under the trainer’s nephew David.
Felix Desjy (15/8 favourite) may have disappointed for Gordon Elliott when a well-beaten third in the feature race, but the Meath trainer had plenty to smile about earlier in the card.
Zanahiyr (1/2 favourite) confirmed his status as one of the most exciting juvenile hurdlers in training when taking the Grade Two Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle in good style under Jack Kennedy to bring up a hat-trick over the smaller obstacles.
Elliott’s three-year-old continued his upward trajectory over the smaller obstacles when showing a decent turn of foot and he may return to Leopardstown for the Grade One Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival in February.
Elliott and Kennedy earlier combined to land the Thorntons Recycling Maiden Hurdle with Wide Receiver (3/1) while Jody McGarvey steered the JP McManus-owned Get My Drift (9/2) to a comprehensive victory in the opening “Join tote.ie With A 10 Euro Risk-Free Bet” Maiden Hurdle.
“It was an exciting start to the Christmas Festival with hugely competitive racing which we hope was enjoyed by racing fans watching at home on a very blustery day. We look forward to more top-class racing tomorrow for Paddy Power Chase Day”, said Tim Husbands MBE, Leopardstown CEO.
Tomorrow’s racing on Paddy Power Day features 2 Grade 1 races and the Grade B Paddy Power Chase.