Thyestes Chase hero Coko Beach followed up in the Ladbrokes Watch Racing Online For Free Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan.
Three and a half weeks on from his lucrative handicap success at Gowran Park, Gordon Elliott’s grey was the 5-4 favourite at Grade Two level in the hands of Jack Kennedy.
It was not entirely straightforward for the market leader though, with Espanito Bello looking a major threat halfway up the home straight.
However, just when he appeared to be getting the better of the argument, Espanito Bello stumbled on landing after jumping the final fence – handing the initiative back to Coko Beach, who went on to score by four lengths.
“Jack said he’s better in a big field, with horses around him, where something can keep him travelling,” said Elliott.
“I was standing out on the track and I wasn’t sure whether he would have won or not. Jack said he thought he would have.
“He said he needed the jump to win it and he got it.”
Coko Beach holds several entries at next month’s Cheltenham Festival, but Elliott added: “I’d imagine we’ll keep him at home and he might go for the Irish Grand National.”
Hugh Morgan produced one of the most sensational riding performances of the season to steer the Denis Hogan-trained Young Dev to victory in the Racing Again March 6th Handicap Chase.
The 17-2 chance appeared to have lost all chance after jumping the very first fence, with a tack problem leaving the conditional jockey to ride the remainder of the three-mile journey without irons.
Just to successfully complete the course would have been a tremendous feat, but miraculously, Morgan managed to get his mount into contention and drove him out on the run-in to secure the most remarkable of wins by three-quarters of a length from Se Mo Laoch.
Explaining what had happened, Morgan said: “My right stirrup broke after the first and I kicked it out. I’m grand at the minute, but I’d say I’ll be sore in the morning!
“The horse had run plenty of times, so I said I might as well keep going. It took a bit of getting used to going down to the fences without them (irons) and I just left him to sort himself out and gave him a squeeze.
“It was great – it was something new anyway! It’s my first ride for Denis, so it’s very important to get a win.”
Elliott and Kennedy doubled up for the day with Frontal Assault (4-1) in the Grade Three Surehaul Mercedes-Benz Novice Hurdle – a late addition to the meeting after being saved and rescheduled following the abandonment of racing at Clonmel on Thursday.
Elliott said: “He was way too keen with the blinkers in Leopardstown.
“He’ll be a grand, big staying chaser. He really stayed well there.
“He’ll get an entry in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham and we’ll see what happens. The likes of Punchestown might not be ideal for him if the ground gets too quick.”
The Cullentra handler went on to complete a four-timer, with Fierami springing a 25-1 surprise in the Ladbrokes Committed To Safer Gambling Handicap Hurdle under Jordan Gainford, and 470,000 euros purchase Ginto and Jamie Codd justifying 5-6 favouritism in the bumper.
Atlantic Fairy secured Listed honours for Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore in the Apple’s Jade Mares Novice Hurdle – getting the better of fellow 11-4 joint-favourite Global Equity by a length and three-quarters.
“I’m delighted with that and she’s a lovely mare,” said de Bromhead.
“She got hurt last year and we had to leave her off, but she’s come back really well and is doing it all well.
“I think she’ll improve for the run as she hasn’t run since Christmas.
“She’s entered at Cheltenham, but we’ll see as there is also the mares’ novice hurdle at Fairyhouse, which is only a couple of weeks after. That might be the more sensible route for her.”
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