Facile Vega proved a bitter disappointment as Found A Fifty claimed Grade One honours in the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown.
Having struck gold at the highest level in the bumper sphere and over hurdles, the Willie Mullins-trained Facile Vega was the 1-2 favourite to complete the set following a comfortable victory on his chasing debut at Navan last month.
With Paul Townend making the trip to Kempton to partner Allaho in the King George, Patrick Mullins was reunited with Facile Vega for the first time since he rounded off his unbeaten bumper campaign in the spring of 2022, but odds-on backers were ultimately left counting their losses.
Gordon Elliott’s Found A Fifty, who won on his fencing bow at Down Royal before chasing home I Am Maximus in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse three weeks ago, was unsurprisingly ridden aggressively by Jack Kennedy as he stepped back from two and a half miles to two miles and a furlong on the outskirts of Dublin.
The six-year-old showed a tendency to edge right at his fences, impeding Facile Vega on a couple of occasions, which prompted Patrick Mullins to switch inside racing down the back straight and he soon took over the lead.
Facile Vega looked to be travelling the better of the pair rounding the home turn, but while he faltered quickly to finish last of four runners, Found A Fifty kept galloping for Kennedy and passed the post with a length and a half in hand over My Mate Mozzie.
“He’s very quirky, but he’s got a massive engine,” Elliott said of the winner.
“To get a Grade One winner is brilliant as it looked like we were unlucky in Aintree (Farren Glory fell in Formby Novices’ Hurdle).
“Jack gave Found A Fifty a wonderful ride. He had to use his head everywhere as he even went to have a look at the rail after the first fence.
“He’s a good horse. He was actually the highest-rated novice chaser in England or Ireland coming into the race today but there is a quirk in him – most good ones have a little bit of a quirk.”
Elliott was also keen to praise his stable jockey, who has suffered more than his fair share of injuries in recent years.
The trainer added: “Jack is different class. He’s just a lovely fella. At home you wouldn’t even pick him out in the string. He’d ride a horse leg length and be nagging and twisting. He’s just a bit different.
“We’re very lucky to have him, holding onto him and keeping him in one piece now would be the problem.”
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