GORDON Elliott enjoyed another landmark afternoon in his training career as General Principle gave him a first BoyleSports Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on the same day he notched up his 200th winner of the season at Cork.
Elliott enjoyed a stellar Cheltenham Festival last month, winning no fewer than eight races, and 20-1 shot General Principle kept up the good work as he emerged best of the handler's 13 runners in what was a dramatic renewal of the Easter Monday feature.
The trainer probably thought his day could not get much better, but then Portnablagh outbattled her rivals to win the Cork & Waterford Mares' Point-To-Point Flat Race at Cork to make it a double century for Elliott this term.
He said: "It's unbelievable to train 200 winners in the season. It's down to the owners and the staff I have, so I'm very lucky."
General Principle's Irish National victory was certainly thrilling, with Bellshill controlling the race and appearing to have everything covered before starting to flounder approaching the final fence.
He managed to get to the other side, but the chasing pack mowed him down and just when it looked like his fellow Willie Mullins-trained inmate Isleofhopendreams was going to claim National glory, General Principle and jockey JJ Slevin lunged late.
After a brief wait, the judge confirmed Elliott's charge had won the day with Forever Gold and Bellshill third and fourth past the post respectively, although the latter was later demoted to fifth with the Elliott-trained Folsom Blue handed fourth place.
Cheltenham Festival flop Getabird made amends in style at Fairyhouse on Monday as he kicked off a Grade Two treble for trainer Willie Mullins in the Rathbarry & Glenview Studs Novice Hurdle.
The six-year-old was a red-hot favourite for the curtain-raising Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Prestbury Park last month, but faded tamely after cutting out much of the running.
He was the even-money favourite to show his true colours in this two-mile Grade Two and duly made light work of a 12-length victory under Paul Townend, with stablemate Draconien in second.
Mullins said of Getabird: "He's back to himself. Paul was brave on him and said he was going to ride him like that.
"He enjoyed himself out in front with his ears pricked all the way.
"Hopefully he'll go to Punchestown now."
Un De Sceaux was another beaten Festival runner to get back on the winning trail in a dramatic Devenish Chase.
The popular 10-year-old had to make do with the runner-up spot when defending his crown in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham last month, but was a 5-6 favourite for this Grade Two assignment.
Doctor Phoenix loomed up as a big danger at the top of the home straight and looked set to land in front until ploughing through the second-last fence and suffering a heavy fall, leaving Un De Sceaux to come home unchallenged.
Mullins said: "Paul thought he had the race won (when Doctor Phoenix fell). He said he hadn't really gone for him and was just cruising and waiting.
"He jumped super and loves these conditions. He's made of iron this fellow. He pulls out every day and the way he races and trains every day at home, he's as hard as nails "It's going to be tough for him to go back to Punchestown, but he probably will."
Coquin Mans (7-1) provided the middle leg of the 28-1 hat-trick as he claimed a comfortable five-and-a-half-length success in the Keelings Irish Strawberry Hurdle.
Mullins said: "Coquin Mans was very unlucky (when slipping up) in Clonmel (last time). He was 10 or 15 lengths in front when he fell on his own on the flat.
"He got a little pinprick of a cut on his knee. It looked nothing, but when I sent him down to Fethard Equine (Hospital) they said it had gone right into his joint, so it took a long time to recuperate.
"Obviously it's job well done. He'll go to Punchestown now."