Unaccompanied and Paul Townend take it up from Oscars Well as they cross the final fence in the Istabraq Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown. ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

Unaccompanied claims the Festival Hurdle for Weld

Demot Weld’s filly got up to win the feature race on day four at Leopardstown, beating favourite Thousand Stars into second place.

LEOPARDSTOWN’S FOUR-DAY Christmas festival finished with a slight surprise this afternoon as Dermot Weld’s Unaccompanied stayed on strongest to win the Grade One Istabraq Festival Hurdle.

Sent off the 10/3 second favourite in the two-mile feature, Unaccompanied waited until just before the final flight to strike the front in the hands of Paul Townend before going on to win by a length-and-a-half.

The four-year-old mare now looks likely to try her hand in the Irish Champion Hurdle next month and Weld hinted afterwards that she may go in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham next March if preparations go according to plan.

Willie Mullins’ Thousand Stars, the 11/10 favourite, found a final burst of energy to keep on in second place after the last while Oscars Well finished two lengths further back in third for trainer Jessica Harrington.

Earlier in the day, “Shark” Hanlon’s Hidden Cyclone (7/4 2fav) was hugely impressive on his first outing over the bigger obstacles, winning the Ballymaloe Country Relish Beginners Chase by two lengths from Nearest the Pin and White Star Line. Afterwards, bookmakers cut his odds from 16/1 to 12s for the RSA Chase in Cheltenham.

The Grade Three Mares Hurdle was won by Barry Geraghty aboard Our Girl Salley (11/4 fav) while Jessica Harrington’s Jetson (12/1) scored a three-and-a-quarter length win in the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle qualifier over three miles.

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