Mozoltov too strong for Don in Moscow Flyer
Report: Punchestown, Sunday
Racing UK Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m, 5yo+
MOZOLTOV displayed plenty of toughness to hold off favourite Don Cossack and remain unbeaten over hurdles. Third in the Champion Bumper at Punchestown last year, the seven-year-old returned at 9-4 with Don Cossack sent off the 6-5 favourite.
Bookmakers cut Mozoltov for the Neptune and Albert Bartlett, but the William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle is Mozoltov's likely Cheltenham Festival target according to trainer Willie Mullins.
"He had been working very well at home, it was just a matter of finding the right race for him without taking on another one of ours and showing he could do it," said Mullins. "He certainly did.
"That puts him in the top drawer and he'll probably go for the Supreme Novices Hurdle. He'll improve on better ground as well, Ruby said he wasn't liking that."
Mozoltov is a general 16-1 chance for the Supreme Novices' on the back of the victory (from as big as 33).
Starkie took the field along, with Mozoltov second, while Don Cossack was further back, and Ned Buntline detached at the rear of the six-strong field. There were no dramas for much of the race as the field jumped well at a sensible pace, with things beginning to hot up approaching three out.
At two out Walsh jumped to the lead, but the move was covered by Davy Russell on Don Cossack and Tony McCoy on Ned Buntline, with the trio quickly bounding several lengths clear.
Heading to the last Ned Buntline's effort quickly flattened, but Don Cossack served it up to Mozoltov.
At the last it was the latter who was slicker, while Don Cossack gave the flight slightly too much air, losing ground. The battle continued right to the line, but Mozoltov proved a tough nut to crack, and held on by a length.