Blue Lord came from last to first to deny King George’s winning partner Tornado Flyer and give Willie Mullins his seventh victory in the Clonmel Oil Chase.
Champagne Fever (2014), Kemboy (2018) and Douvan (2019) are among the winners of the Grade Two division and have raised two of the four runners this time.
Blue Lord, whose only defeat in five starts last season came when third in the Arkle at Cheltenham, was the 5-6 favorite in the hands of Paul Townend.
Last year, the champion King George Tornado Flyer, went 9-2 under Danny Mullins. Unsurprisingly back in the trip, Tornado Flyer charged strongly from the front and saw Darasso and Pencilfulloflead jump the second-to-last hurdle.
Townend, however, took out Blue Lord with a timely challenge to take the lead in the final stretch and while the Tornado Flyer fought bravely, he was a neck back at the line.
Mullins impressed with both horses, as did Paddy Power, who cut Blue Lord 14-1 from 16-1 for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham and Tornado Flyer at 6-1 from 7-1 to successfully defend his King George crown at Kempton. on Boxing Day.
“Paul said Blue Lord is a very strong horse this year and I’m very pleased with that. I thought all the riders on their horses rode really well,” said Mullins.
“Blue Lord was a fan but he was as relaxed as he’s ever been and he’ll be able to relax, instead of being two kilometers in front. He’s big and you don’t want him standing on your toe! David Porter, one of the tallest guys on the field, does a great job with him. very much.
“Blue Lord may get a chance to go to the Champion Chase, but if I can get a program over two and a half miles, the Ryanair Chase looks possible.
“Danny said the Tornado Flyer is a good hit for him and we’re sending him, and maybe both of them, to John Durkan at Punchestown.
“When the Tornado Flyer comes out of this well, King George will check the plan.”