©Healy Racing Photos
By Thomas Weekes
Willie Mullins' Pont Alexandre, under Rury Walsh, routed seven rivals to win the Grade 2 Synergy Security Solutions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown today, moving clear favourite for the Neptune Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham in the process.
A winner of a Grade 1 hurdle at Navan on his only previous Irish start, the son of Dai Jin made all under Walsh, and despite encountering terrible weather conditions (heavy rain and wind), showed a really willing attitude before recording an 11 lengths win over Sizing Gold and the same back to the third placed Our Vinnie.
Afterwards an impressed Mullins stated “it was a huge performance to make all in that ground and in that weather and to burn off the horses behind him. He just destroyed them with that good jump at the second last and opened up a gap of four lengths when other horses would be getting tired.
“I'm looking forward to going to Cheltenham with him but what I'm really looking forward to is sending him over fences. He has size and scope and has a lovely temperament and am really looking forward to going novice chasing next season.”
He added “Ballycasey (the winner's stablemate) looks like he might go for the Albert Bartlett and while Pont Alenandre could go for the Albert Bartlett, he seems to have plenty of speed and will go for the Neptune.”
Bookmakers were unanimous in their appraisal of Pont Alexandre's performance, cutting him to clear favourite for the Neptune Novices. Stan James go 4/1f (from 7s) while Paddy Power go 3/1 (from 6s) for the race.
Henry De Bromhead, trainer of runner-up Sizing Gold, later reported “it was a lovely run and Andrew (Lynch) felt he rode him a little too cautiously but having said that the winner looks a serious horse. He'll probably get an entry in the two staying novices at Cheltenham and maybe we'll go where the winner (Pont Alexandre) doesn't. Whatever he does this year is a bonus as he is a chaser for next year.”
Quotes from Alan Magee