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Vic back at Punchestown on New Year's Eve

Killultagh Vic Killultagh Vic
© Photo Healy Racing

Willie Mullins looks to have a nap hand in the featured Tote Pays Dividend Hurdle at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve.

The champion trainer saddles three of the five runners in the two-and-a-half-mile event.

Classy chasers Killultagh Vic and Bachasson make their seasonal debuts in the conditions hurdle with the former bidding to repeat last year’s victory in the race.

The nine-year-old made a remarkable return from injury when claiming this race 12 months ago.

He looked all set for a commanding success in the Irish Gold Cup subsequently only to crash out at the final fence in a dramatic contest won by Edwulf.

The Old Vic gelding went off an 8-1 shot in the big one at Cheltenham, but never got into contention after jumping poorly in rear.

Unfortunately he was not fluent either at Punchestown, when a one-paced fifth behind stablemate Bellshill, and ended the season on another low note when pulling up in Grade One company over timber in France.

Connections will be hoping he can find his old spark again starting over the smaller obstacles.

Ruby Walsh takes the mount on Bachasson and the grey gelding looks favoured at the weights getting an 8lb pull from his two stablemates.

He has not been seen since falling early in the Gold Cup back in March having been two from two on his previous starts last season.

The seven-year-old was narrowly denied in Grade One company as a novice hurdler, going down by a neck to Long Dog in the 2015 renewal of the Royal Bond.

He has not run over timber since unseating in the 2016 Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham and this is likely to be a starting point for another chase campaign.

The third of the Mullins trio, Scarpeta, has the advantage of a recent run under his belt and given that advantage he could well be the one to beat.

He was a cosy winner of a similar contest over three miles down in Clonmel earlier this month and last year’s novice is still relatively unexposed.

Gordon Elliott runs De Plotting Shed who faded after travelling well in a competitive handicap hurdle at Navan last time

The field is completed by French recruit Darasso who makes his first outing for Joseph O’Brien.

The five-year-old won two Listed hurdles in France, as well as two chases, and it will be interesting to see how he measures up in this company on his Irish debut.