Cyclone on course for Lexus
Hidden Cyclone looks set for the Lexus Chase after continuing his fencing education with an all-the-way success at Gowran Park.
A dual Grade Two winner as a novice hurdler, the Shark Hanlon-trained gelding is expected to be even better over the bigger obstacles.
Facing five rivals in the Carlow I.T. Students Day At Gowran Park December 13th Chase, the 11-10 favourite was given a positive ride from flag-fall by Andrew McNamara.
Briefly joined by Call The Police, he jumped well and was not pressed to come home four and a quarter lengths clear of the Willie Mullins-trained runner, making it three wins from four starts since embarking on a chasing career.
Hanlon said: "He is a lot better out in front. Everyone was knocking him for his jumping but they can't after today. I am delighted with his jumping.
"I will speak to his owners now, but the Lexus at Leopardstown looks the likely race.
"They probably didn't go fast enough for him the last day and he likes a stronger pace. A lot of the Stowaway's like to be out in front."
Paddy Power cut Hidden Cyclone from 33-1 to 25s for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Despite that reverse, champion trainer Mullins still managed a treble courtesy of favourites Diakali (2-5), Reine Angevine (evens) and Aupcharlie (6-4).
Diakali's broken stirrup leather caused the opening Gowran Park Christmas Gift Vouchers 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle to go off eight minutes late but it proved no inconvenience to the French import.
The grey, a 160,000-euro purchase out of Alain Royer-Dupre's stable, looked good as he romped home by 12 lengths under Paul Townend.
"A brand new stirrup leather broke at the start and that caused the delay (race went off eight minutes late). The metal part broke," said Mullins.
"He hurdled very well for his first time and hopefully there will be nice improvement in him.
"He did it nicely and we will be looking to up him in grade now."
Townend enjoyed another easy success on Reine Angevine, the French-bred filly coasting by six lengths in the Follow Gowran Park On Facebook Novice Hurdle.
"She is improving all the time," said Mullins.
"After she won the last day I thought she needed good ground but she did a piece of work on heavy ground during the week and I couldn't believe how well she worked.
"She will be kept to mares' races now."
Andrew Lynch completed the Mullins trio when guiding the Ann and Alan Potts-owned Aupcharlie to an 11-length triumph in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners' Chase.