Ballycasey came out best in the PJ Moriarty Chase at Leopardstown
Ballycasey put up an admirable display as deputy for Champagne Fever to take the Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase.
Last Updated: 09/02/14 3:46pm
Trainer Willie Mullins had no qualms over pitching in the grey in his stablemate's absence and he duly landed the spoils at odds of 2/1 after making most of the running.
Don Cossack, the even-money favourite, was second, while the other member of the party, Carlingford Lough, unseated Tony McCoy at the final fence, when still in with a slim chance.
Ballycasey had suffered a setback since making a winning debut over fences in November but was primed for action as he took each fence in his stride.
Don Cossack put in a determined bid from the home turn and Carlingford Lough was close up as they approached the last, but collided with Don Cossack at that obstacle and the impact saw McCoy cannoned out of the saddle.
Ballycasey then pulled away from his remaining rival on the run-in to score tidily, earning a trim from 8/1 to 6/1 for the RSA Chase with Sky Bet.
Mullins said: "He's not bad for a first reserve.
"He worked at Punchestown last week and although I couldn't really see him as he was obscured by another horse, Paul (Townend, jockey) was adamant that he had worked really well.
"I imagine we'll go for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham now, unless Patrick (Mullins, son and assistant) twists my arm and we go for the four-miler, which I doubt.
"Fingers crossed he'll be all right for Cheltenham. He'd have RSA written all over him at the moment. He's a Presenting and he'd probably be better on better ground."
Mullins also had an update on Champagne Fever, who he said was "fine" and would probably go straight to the Cheltenham Festival next, although he decline to specify a target.