It's For Me shot to the head of the betting for the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham with an impressive victory at Navan on Saturday.
Making his debut for trainer Willie Mullins, It’s For Me was sent off the 4-9 favourite for the Racing Again February 12th (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race after winning his only point-to-point start last year.
Ridden by the handler’s son Patrick, the five-year-old travelled supremely well throughout and was cantering in behind before taking control around two furlongs out.
Mullins only had to push him out to come home 10 lengths clear of Suttons Hill and Paddy Power installed him as the 5-1 favourite for the Cheltenham bumper, before further cutting him to 4s.
Patrick Mullins said: "He’s much better on the track than he is at home, at home he doesn’t flash.
"Looking at the price he went off in his point-to-point, it was obviously a similar story there. He’s much better on grass.
"That was very impressive. He was a bit keen all the way but he quickened up very well.
"That was as good as anything that has been seen this year.
"When you don’t have one of Gordon Elliott’s in there to maybe have a measure, it’s a bit easier.
"The bumper horses seem to be hitting top gear now, they were a bit hit and miss before Christmas."
When asked if the Champion Bumper was tomorrow, would he ride him, Mullins added: "I don’t know what I’m going to ride there."
HMS Seahorse made a stylish return to action in the Navan Handicap Hurdle, putting himself in the frame for the Cheltenham Festival in the process.
The five-year-old finished fourth in the Fred Winter at Prestbury Park last term before claiming a distant third upped to Grade One level at the Punchestown Festival, but he had been off the track since finishing down the field in the Irish Cesarewitch at the Curragh in September, having been gelded in the interim.
Sent off a 15-2 shot in the hands of Sean O'Keeffe, HMS Seahorse was settled on the heels of the leaders on the rail in the two-and-half-mile heat as 11-4 favourite Lucky Max set out to make all.
The market leader gave a bold sight and was still in front jumping the last, but HMS Seahorse was travelling well in behind and swept through to grab the lead on the run to the line.
Paul Nolan's runner went on to score by two and a quarter lengths from Felix Desjy, with Rebel Ivy a further neck back in third.
Paddy Power make HMS Seahorse a 12-1 shot for the Coral Cup, while also offering 20-1 about his chances in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle and the County Hurdle - although the first event listed could be the preferred choice for connections.
"He gave him a brilliant ride. Sean said he came for him every time he asked him," said Nolan.
"He needed to jump the last and he was long at it. He seems to be jumping far better since he was gelded.
"In Galway he jumped poorly when he was odds-on favourite and the jumping just didn't work.
"He's a bit more clinical now, he'd never go long before and he was very good today.
"We might look at the Coral Cup with him. That's where the lads would love to go.
"We'd have to look at a Pertemps qualifier as well, it would be great to have more options, but that might be tight enough."