Nichols Canyon soars in Ryanair Hurdle

Elsewhere, No More Heroes maintained his unbeaten run

Nichols Canyon prevailed after a battling performance in Tuesday's Ryanair Hurdle at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival.

The Willie Mullins-trained favourite traveled steadily for the opening stages of the race, allowing Henry de Bromhead's Identity Thief to dictate the pace before slowly cutting the gap on his rival.

Identity Thief proved his win in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle was no accident as he accelerated into the lead before the final flight.

But it was to be the 2-5 favourite who would show the same enduring qualities of former stablemate Hurricane Fly, as he surged two lengths clear in the final Grade 1 of this year’s Leopardstown Christmas Festival.

Nichols Canyon now moves to second favorite in the betting for the Cheltenham Champion hurdle at a price of 5-1.

Stablemate Faugheen leads the market as odds on favorite at 8-11.

After the race trainer Willie Mullins said: "His battling qualities and his hurdling qualities remind me of Hurricane Fly, and the size of him.

"He probably hasn't the zip of Hurricane Fly - the speed - but he has his stamina and aggressiveness.

"It's going to take him a long time to get over that now, and that's my worry if we're looking at the Irish Champion Hurdle.

"He's got huge reserves. I'm delighted with him."

Earlier, the Neville Hotels Novice Chase, went to No More Heroes (4-9 fav) in the hands of Bryan Cooper.

No More Heroes maintained his unbeaten record over fences and picked up his second Grade One. Wrath Of Titans set the pace before Cooper eased into the front with a mile to run to secure a nine-lengths victory.