Tank outgunned by Vautour
Vautour floored The Tullow Tank with a convincing all-the-way win in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown.
Ruby Walsh took the bull by the horns and dictated affairs on the Willie Mullins-trained five-year-old, who comfortably held the 9-10 favourite by three lengths.
Vautour (7-4) was never put under serious pressure to hold the The Tullow Tank and take his 100 per cent record over hurdles to three since joining the Mullins team from France.
The Tullow Tank appeared to be travelling well enough in third spot behind Vautour and Quickpick Vic, but he could not quicken at a crucial part of the race.
Mullins said: "I was concerned there'd be no pace. We always think that when you've got a good horse you have to have a good pace.
"I said to Ruby that if there was no pace, don't be afraid to go on, but that was still plan B."
Vautour is now the general ante-post favourite to win the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Mullins said: "He jumped very well in front and I was very happy with him.
"I'm still happy to go to the Supreme with him."
Walsh said: "We weren't afraid to make the running and use his galloping and his jumping.
"This is a gorgeous horse with a huge future. He's every bit a chaser."
The Tullow Tank's rider Danny Mullins said: "He was a little bit sticky (jumping) but a good horse beat us.
"It wasn't a bad run."