Hennessy option for easy winner Quel Esprit
Report: Thurles, Saturday
Beamish Stout Phil Sweeney Memorial Chase (Grade 3) 2m2f, 5yo+
THE Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown could be on the agenda for Quel Esprit after the 2-7 favourite outclassed his four rivals, putting in a clear round of jumping before running out an easy 15-length winner from Whodoyouthink.
The Willie Mullins-trained eight-year-old failed to complete in three of his four chase starts last season, including a fall in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
He was brought down when favourite for a Grade 1 novice chase at Punchestown in May but never looked in trouble here as he jumped confidently under jockey Paul Townend to win his second successive race this season, after a confidence boosting win at Naas last time.
Speaking afterwards Mullins was keen to step Quel Esprit back up in grade and nominated the Grade 2 Kinloch Brae back at Thurles on January 19, and the Grade 1 Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown on February 12 as possible targets.
Willie Mullins: hoping to add to his haul of seven Irish Hennessy'sPICTURE: Edward Whitaker
He said: "He jumped well enough I think - we'll up him in class now and we might come back here for the Kinloch Brae - but maybe we should think about kicking him up a gear and going for the Hennessy. We'll see how he comes out of this."
Quel Esprit was always travelling well in behind the early pacesetters Whodoyouthink and Mayo Mystique and jumped his way to the front five fences from home.
Townend was keen to utilise Quel Esprit's proven stamina and his rivals had no answer when he upped the tempo four out, allowing him to coast to an easy success in the home straight.