Wings swoops at Cork
Castle Wings was left to open his account over fences in fortuitous fashion after Blood Cotil took a crashing fall at the second last.
Blood Cotil (1/4) was still going well in front on his fencing debut in the McCarthy Insurance Group Beginners Chase at Cork when he hit the penultimate obstacle pretty hard, allowing Jimmy Mangan's charge, ridden by his son Paddy, to come home unchallenged.
The 7/2 chance had been the only one to keep tabs on the Willie Mullins-trained hot-pot but he looked destined for second place until the demise of the classy five-year-old and jockey Paul Townend.
West Council took the runner-up spot, 24 lengths adrift of Castle Wings, who was winning for the first time over fences at the 13th attempt.
The winning trainer revealed Castle Wings could be aimed at the Thyestes Chase at Gowran on January 23.
He said: "He ran a great race at Limerick (second over Christmas) and I did worry that this race was coming a bit quick for him. But if you're not in, you can't win!
"I'd like to have a crack at the Thyestes if he gets in at the weights. It's been a lucky race for us in the past."
Mullins and Townend had struck with Wicklow Brave (2/5 favourite), who had little difficulty landing the odds in the McCarthy Insurance Group Maiden Hurdle.
Winner of his last three bumpers, the five-year-old coasted to a seven-length success on his hurdles bow.
"On his bumper form we hoped he'd do that. He jumped well and we'll find a nice novice hurdle for him now," said Mullins.
The Mullins team suffered another odds-on reverse when the Dermot Weld-trained Waaheb (7/4) got the better of 8/13 shot Turban in the McCarthy Insurance Group Hurdle.
Turban attempted to make all but Waaheb, ridden by Mark Walsh, put in a strong challenge from the third last and pulled away on the run-in to score by a length and a half.
Weld's son Kris said: "It's nice to get the first winner of the year out of the way.
"He jumped well and battled well, and we'll look for a similar conditions race now."
Avondhu Lady (6/4 favourite) made the most of a lower mark over the smaller obstacles when bounding away with the McCarthy Insurance Group Mares Handicap Hurdle under Bryan Cooper.
David Fenton's nine-year-old had four and half lengths to spare over Evesham Star in second.
"I'm delighted with that," said Fenton. "Coming back over hurdles, you never know, but I thought if things went right she would win. She's won on heavy ground and good, and is very tough and genuine.
"I'm not really sure of plans after today as she could go back over fences or go for another hurdle."