While most of the Willie Mullins stars are now out at grass the trainer still has a few Summer horses on the go.
He combined with stable jockey Ruby Walsh to record a double as Ashjar and Alelchi Inois delivered at the opening session of the two-day Tramore meeting on Friday evening.
The Oasis Dream horse Ashjar has run reasonably well in his three outings over hurdles, in spite of plenty of jumping errors, but he improved considerably in this sphere to land the opening two mile maiden hurdle.
The vibes from the Mullins yard were positive as he had been schooling well and punters heeded the advice to send him off favourite.
Given a positive ride by Walsh Ashjar was always on the leader’s tail before hitting the front on the downhill run to the straight and running all the way to the line, where he had a length and a half to spare over Honey Pond.
This was certainly a big improvement on anything the horse has done up to now. His hurdling improved as the race went on and there is no reason why he cannot be competitive in a winners contest.
Those looking for a future winner may well have noticed the display of the third horse Overcall. Off the track for more than a year, the Danny Mullins-ridden five-year-old was pushed along for much of the journey but responded well. With improvement Overcall looks capable of winning a similar type contest.
Alelchi Inois completed the Mullins/Walsh brace with an impressive victory in the beginners chase over a two mile trip.
This race looked tailor-made for Steps To Freedom but, not for the first time the Jessica Harrington-trained eight-year-old flattered to deceive and had to be content with second place. In contrast Alelchi Inois chased the latter early on, taking over early in the straight before winning by 20 lengths.
This was a highly impressive chasing debut by the winner. He looks versatile in terms of trip and it won’t be a surprise if he lands a decent chase before the Summer is out.
Andrew Lynch continues to ride like a man inspired and he was seen at his very best when getting Offside Rule home a narrow winner of the two mile and six 76-95 handicap chase for the New Ross yard of Michael Cullen.
An easy to back 10/1 chance Offside Rule was still a maiden going into the race, although she had one or two placed efforts to her credit. She seemed to handle this nice ground well as she hit the front at the top of the hill, but had to withstand a serious examination from another mare Fitgutentyte by half a length.
This was the second leg of a double for the trainer as he had earlier saddled War Of The Pennys to give amateur Eddie Keating a first winning ride over hurdles on his first mount.
An unconsidered 33/1 chance, the son of Presenting raced in mid division early on before getting into the race turning to face the judge.
At this point another 33/1 shot Missed Cloud had just taken over but Keating timed his effort to perfection as he kicked War Of The Pennys into the lead at the final flight of hurdles. Kept going, the duo hit the wire three lengths to the good from Missed Cloud with the John Nicholson representative Well Tuned third a further four and a half lengths adrift.
Mick Winters, who trains Missed Cloud, had some measure of compensation later in the evening when he joined forces with Davy Russell to land the two mile and six furlong beginners chase with Samantha Jones.
Making every post a winning one, the Brian Boru mare showed plenty of resolve when it was needed from the second last and ran out a worthy two and a half length winner from the Dessie Hughes runner Dale Street.
For a mare that had been off the track since October this was a fine display, Winters said his charge was only back in training six weeks and he is now on the lookout for a mares novice event as the next port of call.
Mooncoin handler and Harristown jockey Michael Butler went within a neck of capturing the two mile and five 83-100 handicap hurdle with Royal Chief and in the end were a shade unlucky not to have collected.
Always close to the pace Royal Chief struck for home early on the final circuit but began to hang between the final two flights. Butler to his credit got him balanced again and the combination only gave way in the final strides to Never Said That.
This was a decent effort by Royal Chief and he can recoup any losses incurred in the not too distant future. He is by Royal Anthem, a popular stallion who stands at Denis Phelan’s Tullogher House Stud near Mullinavat.