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Dublin: 6°C Saturday 27 February 2021

Bachasson dominant in Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas

Mullins’ grey stays unbeaten this season with all-the-way win at Naas.

Bachasson made it three wins from three this season.
Bachasson made it three wins from three this season.
Image: Alan Magee/PA

BACHASSON MADE IT three from three for the season with an all-the-way victory in the Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas.

The 10-year-old has been well placed to win 11 previous races since joining Willie Mullins, having successfully mixed it between hurdling and jumping fences.

He had advertised that versatility in winning the Clonmel Oil Chase and a conditions hurdle at Punchestown this term, and was an 11-8 chance to complete his hat-trick in this Grade Three contest.

Dropping to two miles for the first time since his novice-hurdling campaign six years ago, Bachasson was unsurprisingly sent straight to the lead by Paul Townend – and steadily raised the tempo.

It was clear before the home turn that marginal favourite Beacon Edge, last seen finishing third in the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse, was struggling to bridge the gap, while the grey continued on his merry way in front.

Grand Roi went in pursuit to split the market principals in second, but never looked a real threat to the admirable Bachasson, who passed the post with almost five lengths in hand.

Paddy Power cut Bachasson to 25-1 from 40-1 for the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Mullins said: “He’s enjoying himself. I thought it was a big ask bringing him back to two miles, but my backroom team overruled me and said he must go here. It’s one up for them!

“We’ll be looking at the Red Mills day at Gowran, and he’ll probably get an entry in both the hurdle and the chase.

“If we can keep him in that sort of form, who knows what will happen?

“I thought after he fell in the Gold Cup in Cheltenham (in 2018) that he wouldn’t run again. We had to reroute the races we were aiming for, and Grade Two and Grade Three races suit him better.”

Meanwhile, Eklat De Rire appears to have booked his ticket to the Cheltenham Festival following an impressive display in the Naas Racecourse Business Club Novice Chase.

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A winner on his chasing debut at Punchestown last month, Henry de Bromhead’s charge faced a step up in class for what looked a competitive renewal of this Grade Three contest.

But the 11-4 chance was soon bowling along at the head of affairs in the hands of Rachael Blackmore – and some quick and accurate leaps kept the pressure on his rivals in behind.

Gordon Elliott’s pair of Escaria Ten and Pencilfulloflead attempted to close the gap from the home turn, but Eklat De Rire did not wilt – keeping up the gallop to beat the former by just under two lengths.

Forza Milan ran on to take fourth in unlikely circumstances after jockey Kevin Brouder did remarkably well to keep the partnership intact following a blunder at the last.

Eklat De Rire is entered in the National Hunt Chase and the Festival Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham, and his trainer said: “He was deadly and is improving all the time. I couldn’t have asked for any more.

“He handles an ease in the ground well. He’s a big heavy topped fella – and while we have never run him on it, I’d say he wouldn’t want the ground too good.

“I’ll have to speak to the owners, but we said if today went well we would aim for the Festival Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham.

“He stays well and he jumps well. He was impressive there and I’d say he deserves his chance after that.”

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