Blackstairmountain and jockey Ruby Walsh stormed to victory in the two-mile five-furlong Nakayama Grand Jump in Tokyo to claim Japan’s premier jump contest.
Trained by Willie Mullins, the eight-year-old was happy to stay in the pack in the early stages before working his way into contention as the Grade One contest went on.
Walsh moved to challenge pace-setter Shigeru Juyaku at the final fence and kept on to win by half a length from Rikiai Kurofune in second and Shigeru Juyaku a further length-and-a-quarter back in third. It was a far better outcome than his Tokyo debut in the Pegasus Jump where he could only manage eighth.
Mullins has had his eye on winning the Nakayama for some time.
"I had the Nakayama Grand Jump in consideration back around ten years ago. I had two good jumpers, Florida Pearl and Alexander Banquet-big winners back home-that were invited,” he said.
"But when I came out to check out on the conditions here, I decided it wouldn't suit both horses and withdrew the entry.
"I thought it would suit what we call a "summer horse" and it took me a few years to find a horse good enough.
"I had my doubts after Blackstairmountain's performance in the Pegasus but Ruby Walsh, the jockey, was more positive and Emmet and Diarmuid have done a tremendous job in conditioning the gelding for this race.
"I am thrilled and if the horse's condition is fit to come again next time, I would be quite eager to do so.
"We were a bit worried about coming back after the Pegasus but the (extra) distance and the experience of the track really helped him and he was a much different horse to ride and it's a thrill to win it.
"After the last fence and coming into the lane when there was a (loose) horse on our outside and the others started to panic, but I was able to position him where I wanted.
"Blackstairmountain likes the fast ground. Unfortunately we haven't been able to have that ground back in Ireland in the last two summers, so we came to Japan for the firm ground and he's shown what he can do in this big race."