Fil Dor justified his position as the early market leader for the Triumph Hurdle when maintaining his unbeaten record in the Bar One Racing Price Boost Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse, but he was made to pull out all the stops by Lunar Power.
Trained by Gordon Elliott, Fil Dor was made favourite for the Triumph following a very impressive debut at Down Royal, but he faced a different calibre of opposition in this Grade Three.
Nevertheless, he was still sent off the 4-7 favourite and Davy Russell appeared to have things under control for most of the race.
However, Noel Meade’s Lunar Power, a winner on his second hurdles outing at Punchestown and experienced from the Flat, was quickening all the time too.
The pair pulled 11 lengths clear, but Fil Dor was going away at the line and won by a length and a quarter.
Coral cut the winner to 9-2 from 6-1 for the Triumph Hurdle.
“Davy said he was just professional and was asleep the whole way. He gave him one dig and he did what he had to do,” said Elliott.
“A bit of softer ground would suit him better, but it was a nice performance and he did it well. Lunar Power brought him a little left so he needed the good jump at the last.
“We will look at Leopardstown over Christmas but ground will be a thing, so we will put him in at Chepstow (Finale Hurdle) as well.”
The opening Bar One Racing Sign Up Bet 10 Get 50 Irish EBF Mares Handicap Chase went to all-the-way winner Alohamora.
Given a positive ride by Gavin Brouder, the James Nash-trained seven-year-old registered her first win since January 2020.
A 66-1 chance when well beaten at Cheltenham earlier this month, she was a well backed 3-1 shot on this occasion.
“It was a brilliant performance from man and horse and Gavin gave her a great ride as usual,” said Nash.
“She has only had four runs over fences and got an awful fall at Catterick and it knocked the stuffing out of her. We ran her afterwards at Limerick and she pulled herself up and wouldn’t take part, so I didn’t know until she got down over the first couple today.
“The owners are from the UK and the first time I got to meet them was a couple of weeks ago in Cheltenham, even though they have had her 18 months.
“Everyone was happy with her in Cheltenham, but I was a bit disappointed and thought she was a little better than she ran. She bounced out of the race and we were taking a bit of a chance running here, but the race cut up and I’m sure everyone was expecting it to be stronger.
“At the declaration stage, with Gavin claiming 7lb, I thought she had a small chance and she put it all together today.”
Denis O’Regan made it a double on the day for both himself and Elliott when getting Smoking Gun home by three lengths in the Baroneracing.com Porterstown Handicap Chase.
The rider had earlier bagged the Grade One Drinmore Novices Chase on Beacon Edge and his mount in this contest stayed on well after the last at odds of 10-1.
Elliott said: “We thought he might run a nice race in the Troytown last week, but he fell at the first and Denis gave him a brilliant ride.
“He was in a dispersal sale out of Gigginstown, and we bought him for these type of races and to have a runner in Cheltenham and all these places. The Irish Grand National would be the aim and he could go for the Kim Muir (at Cheltenham) too.
“I’m delighted for David (Barnard) and a very good friend of mine Mark Madden, who used to ride, owns a leg of him so it is great for them.”
Honeysuckle won a third Hatton’s Grace Hurdle for Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore and the team made it a double in the following Baroneracing.com Handicap Hurdle as 25-1 shot Gua Du Large fended off Glan by a neck.
De Bromhead said: “He was really disappointing in Down Royal – it was really heavy and I think he struggled on the ground. We didn’t really know what happened to be honest and he couldn’t even finish.
“We put a tongue-tie on him today and that might have made a huge difference but I’d say ground and it being his first run, caught him out the last day.
“We said we’d have another go here and he got all the breaks and everything went right for him. It is great for Robcour (owners) and it was an amazing ride. It has been an incredible half an hour.”
The closing Bar One Racing Giving Cash Back Daily (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race produced a thrilling finish with Royal Romeo (7-2) and Kilbunny Pontic (14-1) sharing the honours with a dead heat under Pat Taaffe and Harry Swan respectively.