Willie Mullins earns 10th Morgiana Hurdle win at Punchestown as Gold Cup favourite Klassical Dream is upset
Willie Mullins clinched a 10th Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown as his Saldier upset the trainer's Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Klassical Dream.
After a flawless novice term last season, Klassical Dream went off at 2-5 favourite but could only manage third place as he faded late on.
7-1 shot Saldier, having his first run since last November, finished a length and a half clear of Petit Mouchoir.
Danny Mullins, nephew of the winning trainer, rode Saldier to victory.
Saldier was having his first run since he fell when seemingly travelling better than subsequent ill-fated Champion Hurdle winner Espoir D'Allen last November.
He suffered a broken nose and was given plenty of time to heal - making his return from 371 days on the sidelines in Saturday's race.
Klassical Dream will improve - Mullins
Everything seemed to be going to plan for Klassical Dream as he tracked Petit Mouchoir into the straight, with Saldier coming under pressure.
However, when Paul Townend pressed the button on Klassical Dream, there was little response and Saldier swept by to win by a length and a half, with Klassical Dream a further length back and Mullins' other running Sharjah taking fourth.
"We've always liked Saldier, but it was just whether he would come back from his injury," said Mullins after the race.
"His nose was in bits, but we decided not to have it operated and let nature take its course."
Mullins was not too downhearted with Klassical Dream's performance.
"Klassical Dream threw himself at the first hurdle and then he was just too keen. I think he'll improve from that."
Faugheen wins on chasing debut
2015 Champion Hurdle winner Faugheen survived a couple of jumping errors to run out a convincing winner on his chasing debut at the Punchestown Winter Festival.
Willie Mullins opted to switch Faugheen to fences after an indifferent campaign last season and he was sent off the 8-11 favourite.
The former Champion Hurdle hero led all the way up to the eighth fence when he nearly came to grief.
After Lord Schnitzel moved into the lead, Faugheen then pecked on landing at the third-last but he regrouped to confidently clear the final two barriers to win by seven and half lengths from Walk Away.
A tiring Lord Schnitzel held on for third as Mullins professed himself content with Faugheen's chasing debut.
"He was brilliant over the first half dozen until he made that mistake - it was probably the first ditch that he'd seen," said Mullins.
"I'm happy that we got today out of the way and we'll see how he comes out of this before deciding where we go next."