Brave takes Punchestown scalps

Wicklow Brave added to the formidable armoury held by Willie Mullins for the big Festivals with an impressive success at Punchestown.

The 6/4 sauntered to an impressive success in the I.N.H. Stallion Owners European Breeders Fund Novice Hurdle under Ruby Walsh.

The winner of three bumpers before making a winning debut over timber at Cork in January, the five-year-old went off the 6-4 second-favourite behind Lieutenant Colonel (5-4) and the front two in the market were always moving with menace in the Listed affair.

Lieutenant Colonel took over from fellow Gigginstown House-owned Real Steel after the second-last but could never get away from Wicklow Brave, who cantered to the front approaching the final flight only to make a bit of a mess of it.

Soon on an even keel, however, he was gathered by Walsh to stroll home with lots in hand, a victory made all the more noteworthy as he was quite free-going in the early stages.

Mullins said: "I thought he could do something like that on good ground, but I didn't think he'd do it on this sort of ground. That will do him now before going across (to Cheltenham), I don't think he'll have another run before that.

"He pulled very hard and the pace they will go over there will suit him much better.

"To pull out what he did going to the last, having pulled as hard as he did in the first part of the race, was very good I thought.

"He'll definitely go there (Supreme Novices' Hurdle)."