Touch The Eden clears the last from Raise Hell in second
©Healy Racing Photos
By Donal Murphy
Touch The Eden provided Willie Mullins & the Ricci's with a quick double as he ran out an easy winner of the Munster Maiden Hurdle.
The French import was making his debut for Mullins this afternoon, having run once in France where he finished second on the level in Saint-Cloud.
Sent off the 4/7 favourite (was 11/10 this morning and opened at 8/11 on-course) he raced in fourth in the early stages before he improved to lead after the third last.
He was ridden clear at the second last and he ran on strongly from there and was eased near the line as he came home seven and a half lengths in front of stablemate Raise Hell (9/1) under Davy Russell.
The Ger Keane trained Killshallago finished a further five and a half lengths back in third under Robbie Power at 14/1 while the 6/1 second favourite Blissful Moment fell at the fourth.
Willie Mullins said afterwards: "He is a big galloper and will go down the staying novice hurdle route but he looks a chaser in the making.
"We had him last year but he had a set back with his back and rather than rush him we put him away as he had shown us plenty."
Mullins went on to talk about the runner-up Raise Hell, saying: "I'm delighted with him. It is the first time he has shown us anything. I was going to send him home but I said to Michael (O'Leary) that I would give him one more chance."
The winner has been introduced at 25/1 in the betting for the Albert Bartlett Hurdle at Cheltenham in March with bookmaker Stan James.
(Additional reporting by Thomas Weekes)