Back In Focus edges out stablemate for Grade 1
Report: Leopardstown, Friday
Topaz Novice Chase (Grade 1) 3m, 4yo+
BACK IN FOCUS produced a strong staying performance to wear down his Willie Mullins-trained stablemate Aupcharlie in the Grade 1 Topaz Novice Chase at Leoparstown on Friday.
The winner, sent off 6-4 favourite, was given a cool ride by Ruby Walsh but looked beaten when the 8-1 second quickened clear under Andrew Lynch.
However, Back In Focus was not finished and responded gamely to Walsh's urgings to record a head verdict.
Texas Jack, representing Noel Meade and Paul Carberry, was third at 33-1.
A trip to Cheltenham for the RSA Chase in March could be on the agenda for Back In Focus.
Paddy Power left him at 14-1 for that, while William Hill went the same price (from 16).
BetVictor are 10-1 (from 12) with impressive Feltham Novices' Chase winner Dynaste leading the market at 5-2.
"I'd have rather kept them apart," said Mullins. "The winner is an out-and-out three-miler.
"He's a relentless galloper. He wants every inch of three miles. I didn't think for a second that he was going to get up and pip my other horse. You'd imagine that Back In Focus has the RSA Chase written all over him wouldn't you?
"As happy as I am for everyone involved with Back In Focus my heart goes out to Aupcharlie who ran such a good race. I'd imagine I'll be dropping him down in trip now.
"The way the second horse jumped he can probably come back to two and a half miles - we might even come back to two miles."
Walsh said of his willing partner: "He jumped super. Every Grace 1 success is sweet and that was very sweet. He has so much guts and really wanted to win, which is a great trait to have.
"I never thought I was getting there, never. I couldn't believe I did. I say that's as good as he'd want the ground to be."
Lynch, who won Thursday's Grade 1 Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase on Sizing Europe for Aupcharlie's owners Alan and Ann Potts, said: "The stumble after the last didn't help. He jumped great and I would say he'll be an even better horse on better ground."