navan 16th Dec
Walsh celebrates his four-timer
(Healy Racing Photos)
Pont Alexandre burst on to the scene with a superb performance on his Irish debut to land the Grade One feature event at Navan.
Winner of a maiden hurdle in France on his only previous start, the Willie Mullins-trained four-year-old was sent straight to the front by Ruby Walsh in the Navan Novice Hurdle and never saw another rival.
The 3-1 shot had the race well won when odds-on favourite Don Cossack fell just after the final flight, and Walsh - on his way to a four-timer - was able to coast in 13 lengths clear of Busty Brown.
It was a 100th winner of the season for Mullins, who struck earlier when Boston Bob (1-5 favourite) scored on his fencing debut in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase, although he gave supporters some anxious moments.
The exciting prospect jumped well for Walsh, but when he came to challenge he found a determined opponent in the front-running You Must Know Me, who made him pull out all the stops to score by half a length.
Mullins completed a treble when Union Dues (3-1) scooted clear to take the Irish Form Book 'Future Champions' INH Flat Race, but this was more significant for his jockey son Patrick, who was equalling the record for the most winners in a year by an amateur with 72.
Walsh also landed a double for Tony Martin, easily taking the HRI On-Line Client Website Maiden Hurdle on Wingtips (1-4 favourite) and charging late to win the www.hri.ie/login Handicap Hurdle on Matsukaze (9-2).
The Tara Hurdle lost some of its lustre in the absence of Simenon and Muirhead, but there was drama in the closing stages before the Grade Two prize went to Owega Star (4-1) from the Peter Fahey yard.
Evens favourite Un Beau Matin looked to be travelling best as he came to challenge at the second-last, but he took a crashing fall and left Andrew Leigh to drive Owega Star a length and three-quarters clear of Maller Tree.
Union Dues showed an impressive turn of foot to land the concluding Future Champions Bumper at Navan.