Alexandre makes all at Navan as Cossack falls
Report: Navan, Sunday
Navan Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m4f
PONT ALEXANDRE announced himself in some style by making all to score on his debut for Willie Mullins as favourite Don Cossack fell at the final hurdle when beaten.
The performance was enough for bookmakers to introduce Pont Alexandre as favourite for the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Paddy Power make him 6-1, Boylesports 7-1, William Hill and BetVictor 8-1.
Ruby Walsh had added a large amount of intrigue to the race by picking Pont Alexandre over more experienced stablemate Reine Angevine and set off to make all on the once-raced runner.
Having been a relatively dull affair up to the home straight, the race suddenly sprung into life at the third-last hurdle as Seefood unseated Bryan Cooper and proceeded to run through two sets of plastic railings.
Up front, Don Cossack was making heavy weather of catching Pont Alexandre, who kicked further clear on the run to the final hurdle as the favourite floundered in the testing conditions.
The successful trio: Rich Ricci, Ruby Walsh and Willie MullinsPICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Skipping over the last obstacle, it was clear that victory would go to the newcomer for the powerful Walsh/Willie Mullins/Rich Ricci combo but second was still to be decided with Busty Brown challenging Don Cossack.
After clambering over the hurdle, Don Cossack appeared to take a false step and fell leaving his jockey Davy Russell on the floor for a third time in as many races. Both horse and rider were up okay after the fall.
Mullins, who was saddling his 100th winner of the season, said: "He's a horse I love. I saw him in France over the summer and I rang Rich and said I wanted to buy this horse and he cost a good few quid.
"He wasn't exactly catching pigeons on the gallops but in the last month when the ground got heavy he started to show me a bit more. He looks a real nice horse for the season.He hurdles like a natural and takes everything in his stride.
"I think he is a stayer so we'd look at the Neptune or the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham. I'll look for another race for him in January."
Trainer Gordon Elliott reported Don Cossack to be none the worse for his fall but was puzzled by his run. He said: "He seems fine but that wasn't the real Don Cossack. He was very laboured. He was never travelling and was flat out down the back."