The grey Diakali jumps the last under Paul Townend
©Healy Racing Photos
By Donal Murphy
The opening race at Gowran this afternoon, the Gowran Park Christmas Gift Vouchers 3yo Maiden Hurdle, went to the 2/5 favourite Diakali.
Trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Paul Townend, the son of Sinndar was making his Irish debut this afternoon.
Previously trained in France by Alain De Royer-Dupre, the grey gelding was purchased by Mullins for €160,000 at the Arqana Deauville Summer Mixed Sale in July of this year.
He raced in second behind leader Danequest for much of the contest before improving to lead before the fourth last.
He travelled best entering the straight and cruised clear on the run-in to score by an unextended twelve lengths.
The Eoin Doyle trained Crouching Tiger finished best of the rest in second at 11/1 (33/1 this morning and opened at 16/1 on-course) under Mikey Butler while early leader Danequest was a further six lengths back in third under Niall Madden for Austin Leahy.
Willie Mullins said afterwards: "A brand new stirrup leather broke at the start and that caused the delay (race went off eight minutes late). The metal part broke.
"He hurdled very well for his first time and hopefully there will be nice improvement in him.
"He did it nicely and we will be looking to up him in grade now."
The winner has been introduced at 20/1 with Stan James for Trumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
(Additional reporting by Thomas Weekes)