Posted: 29th Nov 2015
Long Dog: narrowly denies stablemate Bachasson in the Royal BondPICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Report: Fairyhouse, Sunday
Bar One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle (Grade 1), 2m, 4yo+
LONG DOG emulated some of hurdling's biggest stars, most notably Hurricane Fly, Jezki and Nichols Canyon, by narrowly holding off stablemate Bachasson in a deadly duel up the home straight to add his name to the Royal Bond honour roll.
The five-year-old's success provided trainer Willie Mullins with a fourth winner of the €85,000 Grade 1 Hurdle in the past six years.
Sky Bet were impressed with the performances of the Mullins-trained pair, with Long Dog cut to 12-1 (from 20) for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle and 12-1 (from 16) for the Neptune, while Bachasson is now 14-1 (from 16) for the Festival opener.
The race itself is in danger of losing its Grade 1 status and it remains to be seen whether the Mullins duo will cement their credentials for the highest level, though the battling performance on show from odds-on favourite Long Dog suggested a step up in trip would certainly suit the Notnowcato gelding.
The Sussanah Ricci-owned hurdler continued his progressive profile, which now reads five wins from six starts over jumps, by denying Bachasson in an extended battle after turning in for the finish.
Long Dog made a few scratchy errors mid-race but travelled well upsides pacesetter Baily Cloud on the turn to the straight, with Paul Townend making headway aboard Bachasson on the outside of the field.
After jumping the second-last flight in unison, Ruby Walsh went for broke aboard the well-supported Long Dog, and following a good jump at the last, held the second favourite at bay to win by a neck in a pulsating finish.
Mullins said: "Long Dog was very good and he got a super ride from Ruby who was always in 'position A'. But Bachasson didn't jump or travel like we know he can and so to finish as close as he did was a fair achievement.
"They could both run in the Paddy Power Champion Novices Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas and both could step up in trip in time too."
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