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Mystical Power stars with Aintree victory

Mystical Power fended off the renewed challenge of Firefox to win the TrustATrader Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree.

Trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Mark Walsh, Mystical Power – who runs in the green and gold of JP McManus – has long carried plenty of expectation as a son of Galileo out of Champion Hurdle winner Annie Power.

He came close to emulating his dam as a Festival winner when finishing second in last month’s Supreme and finally graduated to Grade One glory here.

Walsh was happy to settle in the pack through the early stages as Lookaway raced to the fore, but with three to jump, Mystical Power (11-10 favourite) was clearly travelling best of all.

He took it up before jumping the last from Firefox and while that rival battled back gamely on the run to the line, Mystical Power was half a length too good.

Mullins said: “I’m delighted to win a Grade One with him. Rich (Ricci) has a share in him because he owned the mare, obviously, so it means a lot. For the mare herself to have a Grade One winner is special.

“We started off lowly with him, he won a bumper at Ballinrobe so he obviously keeps a lot for himself for the racetrack. We just get him fit and let him do his own thing.

“We’ll have a think about Punchestown but he doesn’t owe us anything this year, we’ll see how he comes out of it. I was particularly taken with how he hurdled today, he barely came off the ground, like a real professional hurdler, and that’s what he looks like.

“We’ll see about next year, he doesn’t scream chaser to look at but I’m sure he’d make one if we wanted, we’ll see at the end of the season what rating he has and what is left for him. Whether he can dine at the top table over two miles is another question.

“He’s upheld the Supreme form, it’s tough enough coming from Cheltenham to here but a few have done it this week.”

Walsh added: “I was there a bit too soon and wanted to wait a bit longer, but Jack (Kennedy, on Firefox) was going to close the door on me, so I had to go when I did. Thankfully, he kept at it all the way to the line – he’s a tough horse.”

Gordon Elliott was pleased with Firefox, saying: “I thought he ran a good race and there’s no real excuse. He got the run of the race and jumped well and we were beaten half a length, which is no disgrace whatsoever.

“He’ll most definitely go chasing next season. He’ll be a proper two-mile chaser and the way he jumps a hurdle you’d say he wants a fence, he’s a good horse.

“He’s a very good looking horse and an exciting horse for next year, so we’ll look forward to that.”

Neil King also has lots to look forward to with Lookaway, who was third, beaten another nine and a half lengths.

He said: “He must have had an off-day in the race at Newbury (Betfair Hurdle), but today his jumping was fantastic. We didn’t even try to go to Cheltenham, we elected to run him over two miles here and hope we could exploit a chink in the armour of the others.

“I can’t wait to put him over fences, but if he bounces out of this there’s another race for him at Sandown in a couple of weeks.”

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