Walsh steals the show
Ruby Walsh's supreme riding ability was once again in evidence as he produced three magnificent performances in the saddle at Leopardstown.
The victories saw the top jockey complete an 81-1 hat-trick on the penultimate day of the Christmas Festival.
As well as performing miracles to get Tidal Bay up close home in a brilliant renewal of the Lexus Chase, Walsh was at his imperious best aboard Back In Focus in a thrilling Topaz Novice Chase.
The first leg of the Walsh treble came in the Star Best For Racing Christmas Rated Hurdle as the Mullins-trained Supreme Carolina (5-1) answered his every call to get up and beat Persian Gayle by half a length.
"Ruby said he couldn't go with them so he sat and waited and it paid off. The ground might be a bit drier than they are calling it for her to win," said Mullins.
Talbot Road won a dramatic race for the opening Madigans Maiden Hurdle after the two market leaders Foxrock and Mala Beach made extraordinary exits.
The Ted Walsh-trained Foxrock, the 5-4 favourite, got no further than the first flight when badly hampered and giving Walsh no chance of staying in the saddle.
Foxrock continued riderless, causing the rest of the field problems as he kept running in and out of the hurdles track.
Mala Beach then got squeezed up on the rail after jumping the second-last hurdle giving Davy Condon a fall.
Thunder And Roses looked likely to come out on top but Barry Cash's vigorous riding of the Arthur Moore-trained Talbot Road (7-1) proved most effective as he prevailed by two lengths.
"He won a point-to-point in April, but was only four in the middle of June. My son-in-law Kevin Ross bought him at the Derby sales," said Moore.
"We've always liked him from day one and he's the best young horse we've had for a while. He's our big hope for the future.
"He has a big heart and he showed that today. I know the two favourites were knocked out, but it was still a good performance. He's only a baby.
"This was the plan, he came in from grass. He got no run in Fairyhouse and only got galloping when the race was over.
"He's a chaser for the future. You can see the scope he has jumping. Hopefully this time next year he'll be here for a good chase."
Flying Light (10-1) gained a narrow success in an open race for the Mongey Communications Novice Handicap Hurdle.
Andrew McNamara brought John Queally's charge through a crowd of horses to lead at the final flight and staved off Grange, who battled all the way to the line and was only a neck down.
"I've ridden him plenty of times before and even though he has won he never gave me the feel he gave me today," McNamara said.
"From the word go he was alive and well in himself. It was his first time in blinkers so that may have made the difference."
Charlie Swan's 7-4 joint-favourite Tangled Web landed the bumper under Nina Carberry.