Getabird soars to head of Supreme market after smooth success
Getabird flew to the head of the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle market with an impressive display in the same sponsor's Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown on Saturday.
He was adding to the gains trainer Willie Mullins has made in the contest in recent years with Vautour and Douvan en route to Cheltenham glory.
If anything, the performance of Getabird in a quality renewal was more impressive than those of the aforementioned festival heroes who have carried the Rich Ricci colours with great distinction, and Getabird was shortened to no bigger than 4-1 for the Prestbury Park opener.
His jumping and galloping under Patrick Mullins, and then the manner in which he quickened away from Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle winner Mengli Khan from the final flight, looked to be that of a very smart novice.
The rider had to get down to 11st 2lb – light for him – but whatever suffering was involved was certainly well worth it.
The champion trainer reflected: "He jumped fantastic, way better than on his first run here. I was a bit concerned whether he could jump at the speed they were likely to go here, but what can we say but that he was very good and I'm very happy with him?
"The rain last night was a big help but he showed plenty of pace there. Looking at that you'd have to think he would be good enough for the Supreme Novices', but he'll get an entry in the Ballymore as well.
"On that evidence you'd think that he would be able to jump with any novice in the country."
Mullins continued: "He got some nice horses off the bridle there. He's improving and we're very much on the way up. He's managed to put two runs together back-to-back, he's staying sound and fingers crossed he'll keep doing so.
"I haven't thought about whether he might have a run before Cheltenham – we'll see how he comes out of the race."
Having disgraced himself by running out through the rail before the second-last in the Grade 1 novice hurdle over the minimum distance at Leopardstown over Christmas, Mengli Khan at least managed to restore some of his reputation, albeit he was no match for the winner in trying to concede his Grade 1-winning 6lb penalty.
Trainer Gordon Elliott, whose runner was beaten nine lengths, said: "He jumped well but there are no excuses. He was just beaten by a very good horse. He ran his race.
"Better ground would have suited us, but there's no doubt that the best horse won."
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