A masterful tactical ride from Bryan Cooper and an impressive turn of foot, sealed a notable victory for the improving Petit Mouchoir in the Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown.
The final major race of a memorable Christmas Festival saw a field of five, headed by last year’s winner Nichols Canyon.
As the quintet set off on their two mile trip, it was Nichols Canyon who jumped off in front of former stable mate Petit Mouchoir, with Jer’s Girl third and then Footpad and Ivanovich Gorbatov.
Racing past the post with a circuit to race, the grey Petit Mouchoir went on and opened up a two length advantage over Nichols Canyon, with a gap back to the other three.
Petit Mouchoir continued to lead by about 2 ½ lengths from Nichols Canyon down the back straight, with Jer’s Girl third and then Footpad and Ivanovich Gorbatov.
Three out and the order remained the same, although Nichols Canyon moved closer on the turn towards the second last flight.
Nichols Canyon jumped nearly upsides Petit Mouchoir at the second from home, but the grey quickened on the home turn for Bryan Cooper and opened up a five length lead heading to the last.
He jumped the last well, with Nichols Canyon unable to close, and the Henry de Bromhead trained 5 year old passed the line with a clear and uncontested lead.
Nichols Canyon fought on well to claim second place, but had no answer to the winner’s turn of foot, while Ivanovich Gorbatov stayed on for third, ahead of Footpad and the very disappointing Jer’s Girl.
Petit Mouchoir had given the impression he was improving earlier in the autumn and had still been travelling well when coming to grief in the home straight, in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle. He gained ample compensation here as he entered the Champion Hurdle reckoning.