Klassical delivers dream Christmas performance

Klassical Dream ran the opposition into the ground under an inspired ride from Paul Townend to win the Dornan Engineering Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown.

Townend stole a march on his rivals at the start when taking at least six lengths out of the field.

Only Danny Mullins, riding last year’s winner Flooring Porter, tried to cover the move and roust his mount into second place behind the Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old.

Klassical Dream, having his first race since winning Punchestown’s Stayers Hurdle in April, settled into a handy lead with Flooring Porter well clear of the others.

Try as he might, Flooring Porter could not mount a serious challenge to Klassical Dream (7/4 favourite), who kept on gamely to land the Grade One spoils by two lengths. Burning Victory was 21 lengths away in third place.

Klassical Dream was cut to 2/1 favourite from 7/2 for the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival with Coral and 11/4 from 4/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair.

Klassical Dream went from the front and was never passed at Leopardstown

Klassical Dream went from the front and was never passed at Leopardstown

“We were expecting pace in the race but Paul said the horse took the initiative, jumped out the gate and went,” said the winning trainer. “The horse took over and did everything himself.

“He is a hard horse to train but has huge ability and doesn’t always give you confidence when he works. I was only hoping things would come right when he came here today and they did.

“We’re getting to know him a lot more now and trust him. It’s a good possibility he could head straight to Cheltenham but we haven’t really thought about that.”

Doyle enjoys shock first winner

Howyabud foiled the odds-on Horantzau D’Airy to spring a 25/1 surprise on his debut over the smaller obstacles in the opening contest at Leopardstown.

Second in two bumpers and a point-to-point, the four-year-old gelding made virtually all the running over two and a half miles in the hands of 5lb claimer Jack Foley to give Ellen Doyle her first winner as a trainer.

Howyabud cut out the early pace with Frontier General and Horantzau D’Airy on their heels. Once Frontier General had cried enough, the duo had the race between them and Howyabud drew clear in the closing stages to score by six lengths. Secret She Keeps was five and a half lengths away in third place.

Howyabud and Jack Foley jump the last to win the Savills Maiden Hurdle at Leopardstown

Howyabud and Jack Foley jump the last to win the Savills Maiden Hurdle at Leopardstown

“That’s our first track winner so we’re very happy,” said County Wexford-based Doyle.

“He had good bumper form and ran in a very good point-to-point in Monksgrange last time. We thought a lot of him coming here and were very happy with him.

“He was progressing along nicely and then Paul’s horse made a slight mistake, after that we were expecting him to do the job.

“I got the licence in March and have had seven or eight runners. I’m thrilled for the owner as Charlie (Carter) has been with us a long time and I’m happy to see him getting his win today.

“We’ll see what way he comes out of the race, go from there and see what the owner wants to do.”

Panda Boy (16/1) came with a late run to spoil a gamble on Winter Fog in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle.

Panda Boy wins at Leopardstown under JJ Slevin

Panda Boy wins at Leopardstown under JJ Slevin

The lightly-raced five-year-old, trained by Martin Brassil and ridden by JJ Slevin, asserted from the re-inserted final flight to beat Winter Fog by three and a quarter lengths. Futurum Regem was a length away in third place.

Slevin said: “It was a good effort, he travelled well and jumped well. He’s a good, tough, game horse and he’s won well.

“His form was decent and I was hoping he’d run well but I wasn’t sure. I was hoping he was capable of being in the first five or six, but he stuck at it well and he was a good winner on the day.

“Over that trip he has a little bit of class and a bit of cruise about him, and that’s a good sign. Whatever he does over hurdles will be a bonus because he’s going to be a right chaser.”