Willie Mullins and Paul Townend grabbed another Grade One success this week as Gaillard Du Mesnil claimed an easy victory in the Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown.
Although winless in six previous outings over the larger obstacles, the dual Grade One-winning hurdler had never finished out of the first three and has been placed three times at the highest level.
With his Drinmore conqueror Mighty Potter a non-runner, Gaillard Du Mesnil was the 5/6 favourite to open his chasing account and ultimately did so in fine style in a race marred by fatal injuries suffered by both Unexpected Depth and Three Stripe Life.
Amirite also unseated Rachael Blackmore, but Gaillard Du Mesnil managed to keep himself out of trouble under a patient ride before pulling seven and a half lengths clear of Churchstonewarrior.
Bookies now make Gaillard Du Mesnil their 6/4 favourite from 9/4 for the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, while he is 6/1 from 10/1 for the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase.
"He had the experience and he had the rating. He was still a maiden, but we had kept him to good class company all the time and he got his experience against that type of company," said Mullins.
"Paul said he just flew fences down the back for him. They went very fast and he was even taken off it a bit early on.
"He just glided into the race down the outside, kept out of trouble and kept away from the loose horse (Amirite) the best he could. He just kept jumping and landed in front.
"He deserved a crack at two and a half (miles) last time, though it was a little bit short for him. He probably learned a lot going that pace.
"All that experience counts for a day like today."