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Dublin: 6 °C Monday 17 December, 2018

Joy for Willie Mullins, as Footpad prevails amid an emotional day at Leopardstown

There was no shortage of thrilling moments on Day 1 of the festival.

Paul Townend onboard Footpad on his way to winning as Davy Russell falls on Death Duty at the last.
Paul Townend onboard Footpad on his way to winning as Davy Russell falls on Death Duty at the last.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

FOOTPAD PREVAILED IN the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown to make it a good opening day of the festival for trainer Willie Mullins.

Regarded before the race as perhaps the five-year-old gelding’s biggest rival, Death Duty was in contention initially but struggled towards the race’s climax and ultimately fell at the final fence.

There were emotional scenes elsewhere, as 50/1 outsider Ellie Mac triumphed in the Horse and Jockey Hotel Maiden Hurdle.

The horse is owned by a syndicate established in memory of Niccolai Schuster, who was one of six Irish students that died in the Berkeley balcony tragedy on 16 June, 2015.

Meanwhile, in the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle, Espoir D’Allen justified the pre-race hype with a victory.

The Gavin Cromwell-trained horse was the favourite at 1/2 ahead of the race, and overcame competition from the likes of Farclas and Gordon Elliott’s Mitchouka.

In the Thorntons Recycling Maiden Hurdle, it was a good day for Henry de Bromhead, as Paloma Blue — ridden by Davy Russell — prevailed in the Thorntons Recycling Maiden Hurdle.

In addition, 10/1 shot and Helen Mullins-owned Sparky Stowaway emerged victorious in the Cardinal Capital Handicap Hurdle.

De Bromhead was left celebrating again after the penultimate race of the day, the ‘Bet Through The Racing Post App’ Handicap Chase, as Tisamystery succeeded despite being a relative outsider at 16/1.

Finally, Willie Mullins’ Blackbow came out on top in the Lep Inn Flat Race, beating Jessica Harrington’s The Holy One and Joseph O’Brien’s Ballyneety into second and third respectively.

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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Paul Fennessy

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