Arvika brilliant in the Drinmore
Arvika Ligeonniere and Ruby Walsh - what a combo!
(Healy Racing Photos)
It may have looked that Willie Mullins' charge was doing too much out in front as the clear leader, but his generally fast fluent jumping is obviously a big asset.
Three out it might have appeared as if there was a chance of Dedigout and Texas Jack bridging the gap. Up the straight though it was bar a fall for Willie Mullins' winner and he eventually crossed the line eleven lengths to the good.
Mullins remarked: "He was very impressive. He did it very well, his jumping was fantastic.
"He has a tremendous cruising speed and we wouldn't be afraid to go back to two miles – that's maybe his job.
"He was very fast over the first four fences. There was a few front runners in it and they were all trying to make it.
"He has the jumping ability along with the pace. Until we see that he's not able to do it over two miles we'll go that way first.
"He had a year off. He just had a little problem. With horses like him you just have to give them a bit of time.
"We'll keep him running as much as we can and get all the experience we can with him.
"We'll look at Christmas now."
Ruby Walsh said: "This fella is a bit keen. He went some gallop back to here over the first four.
"I got into an even rhythm then. He's just relentless and I'd have no worries going back in trip with him, he has no shortage of pace and he really attacks his fences.
"It's a pity the novice hurdle wasn't two and a half and that was two – we might have two winners got.
"I thought I was going too fast early. Willie told me I wouldn't have much choice. You're sitting up trying to slow him down if you can a bit. He's a great jumper and he attacks his fences. He's a horse that's always had a big engine. He's just been a bit difficult to train.
"The lads at home have done a good job. David Porter rides him the whole time and he keeps him under wraps."
Meanwhile of his Royal Bond runners Mullins said: "I thought Champagne Fever was beaten by a better horse today and that's the way it goes.
"Jezki was the horse we were afraid of. It was only our lad's second run over hurdles and though we're disappointed not to win, he ran a fantastic race.
"It's a tough track to make all the running on and with Jezki getting three pounds as well you can take a lot out of that performance.
"Zuzka ran a fantastic race to get third place. That was her Gold Cup getting Grade 1 placed for a mare."
<Arvika Ligeonniere is 8/1 (from 16) for the Arkle and 14/1 (from 20) for the RSA with Stan James.
Paddy Powers betArvika Ligeonniere 7s from 16s for the Arkle and 10s from 20s for the RSA. (GC & EM)
In the Grade 1 Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle Willie Mullins' pair, Champagne Fever (2nd) and Zuzka (3rd) lost little in defeat to a very classy two miler in the shape of Jezki (backed from 11/4 into 9/4) at Fairyhouse.