fairyhouse 23rd Feb
Roie Du Mee (far side) and Prince De Beauchene
(Healy Racing Photos)
Last year's winner Prince De Beauchene had every chance but was keen in the early stages and that probably cost him as he finished two lengths adrift of the Gordon Elliott-trained runner, with Seabass running a solid race in third.
Elliott, who was travelling back from Newcastle's abandoned Eider Chase meeting, said plans were fluid for the 5-1 winner, who holds entries in the Ryanair Chase and Aintree National.
Mullins had earlier broken the record for the number of NH winners in a season held by Aidan O'Brien when Away We Go made it 156 for the campaign in the attheraces.com Exclusive Barry Geraghty Blog Handicap Hurdle.
Mullins, who pointed to the wet summer helping him get victories on the board much earlier than normal, will give the winner, who responded positively to the fitting of a tongue-tie, an entry in the Irish National.
Mullins equalled O'Brien's total, set in the 1995-96 season, when Glens Melody (4-6 favourite) ran out a smooth winner of the ITBA Fillies Scheme Novice Hurdle, staying on strongly to beat Byerley Babe by two and three-quarter lengths.
Mullins has earmarked the new Grade One mares hurdle at this track's Easter festival for the winner.
Leading hunter Tammys Hill, twice conqueror of Salsify this season, suffered an odds-on reverse in the John McCarthy Memorial Hunters Chase behind Warne (9-1).
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