Teahupoo shot to ante-post favouritism for the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival following a facile victory in the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park.
Gordon Elliott’s charge finished last behind Honeysuckle in the Champion Hurdles at Cheltenham and Punchestown last season, but turned the tables when inflicting a first career defeat on the superstar mare in the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse last month.
Stepping up to three miles for the first time, Teahupoo was a 4/11 chance to give weight and a beating to five rivals at Grade Two level and could hardly have been more impressive.
Ridden by Davy Russell, enjoying his first Graded success since coming out of retirement to deputise for the injured Jack Kennedy, Teahupoo travelled like the class horse in the field before being asked to extend in the home straight.
He swiftly put any stamina doubts to bed as he powered 15 lengths clear of the veteran Summerville Boy, seeing Paddy Power slash his Stayers’ Hurdle odds to 11/4 from 7/1.
Latest Stayers’ Hurdle odds (Sky Bet)
Teahupoo – 3/1
Home By The Lee – 9/2
Blazing Khal – 7/1
Paisley Park – 9/1
Ashdale Bob – 10/1
Flooring Porter – 11/1
BAR – 12/1
Elliott said: “He was good and is a good horse. He is going the right way and the plan is to go straight to Cheltenham for the Stayers’ Hurdle.
“It was two miles in Cheltenham last year and I’d say this distance is the key to him – over two miles the gun is to your head the whole time. I know he was well beaten in Punchestown after that, but he wasn’t actually beaten that far.
“At the moment we have no worries ground-wise, although it (Stayers Hurdle) is an open race too.
“Davy (Russell) said he panicked and got there a bit soon, as he is so laid-back early but when he gave a squeeze, he leapt back on the bridle. You’d love the way he quickened from the second-last to the line.”
Carefully Selected gave further evidence of the remarkable training talents of Willie Mullins with a pulsating victory in the Goffs Thyestes Chase.
While successful in six of his first 10 starts under Rules, the Well Chosen gelding unseated the trainer’s son Patrick as an odds-on favourite for the 2020 National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and was subsequently sidelined for the best part of three years.
But having shaped with some promise on his long-awaited return in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown last month, the 11-year-old was the 9/2 favourite to provide Mullins with a ninth victory in the €100,000 feature at his local track.
Ridden by Paul Townend, previously successful in the Thyestes aboard On His Own in 2014, Carefully Selected charted a wide course for much of the three-mile-one-furlong journey.
After losing his position with a circuit to race, he made ground onto the heels of the leaders before the home turn and landed in front at the second fence from home.
Dunboyne, one of nine runners for Mullins’ great rival Gordon Elliott, emerged as a major threat on the run-in and the pair flashed by the line almost as one – but the judge confirmed Carefully Selected the winner by a short head.