Trained by Joseph O’Brien, the nine-year-old was winning for the 12th time in his 39 races and was gaining some compensation for his near-miss in the Galway Plate when touched off by subsequent American Grand National winner Hewick.
A fair three-length third to Blue Lord in the Clonmel Oli Chase last time out, Walsh was happy to let Cilaos Emery and Escaria Ten get involved in a battle up front.
When he arrived travelling smoothly before the second-last the result looked a formality, but Escaria Ten made him pull out all the stops, eventually going down by two lengths to the 11-10 favourite.
Owner JP McManus’ racing manager Frank Berry said: “It was a lovely performance and he has been a great horse who turns up every day. The race was coming quick enough for him after Clonmel and Mark said they went a right good gallop and he picked up well.
“It was tight enough around here for him, it took a while to warm up into it and he was going as fast as he wanted to be going, so he had to be patient on him. He gave him a great ride.
“If you had a yard full of him you’d be flying and Joseph has done a great job with him. We’ll tip away in similar races and the bit of good ground is a help to him as well.”
Paddy Power and Betfair cut the winner to 25-1 from 33s for the Grand National.
McManus enjoyed an earlier winner with Shane Broderick’s Filon D’oudairies (4-1 favourite) in the www.thurlesraces.ie Handicap Chase.
Gordon Elliott’s Liberty Dance looks a nice type for the future having justified 5-6 favouritism in the Racing Again December 18th Irish EBF Mares Maiden Hurdle.
Jack Kennedy’s mount was not disgraced in Grade Three company on her hurdling debut and made no mistake down in class.
“She is a nice mare, is a galloper and I’d say when she gets further she will be better. She is tough and it is a good performance,” said Elliott.
“The further she goes, the better she’ll be and we’ll take it step by step with her. There is a race in Haydock in two weeks’ time and there’s a race back here for her also.”
Henry de Bromhead’s 2021 Cheltenham Festival winner Telmesomethinggirl was odds-on for her chasing debut in the Richard Brennan Fencing Services Beginners Chase – but she could never get on terms with the Mullins-trained Glengouly (100-30) who made all for Paul Townend.
“It was Plan A to jump out and hope that he would jump well as he has jumped well at home. I think he can jump better than he did today, but he got a good start and kept it up,” said Mullins.
“I was a little apprehensive the ground was so dry, but maybe it was more advantageous to us than the opposition.
“At Christmas you’d be looking at the Grade One at Limerick, but I think we might look for an easier race.”
De Bromhead did get on the scoresheet with 20-1 chance Popova in the Killinan Maiden Hurdle.
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