Grand Paradis scored his third win from four runs when taking the Markaye Contracts Ltd Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle at Thurles for Gordon Elliott.
The five-year-old galloped to a convincing 13-length success in the Grade Three contest, starting at 7-2 and claiming a second win over hurdles after triumphing at Fairyhouse last time out.
As a result, he was promoted to 6-1 favourite from 10-1 by Betfair and Paddy Power for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at next month’s Cheltenham Festival.
The grey gelding was piloted by Jack Kennedy, who felt he had come on from that previous performance and would eventually be a candidate for steeplechases.
“He has improved from his maiden hurdle win and I’m delighted,” the jockey said.
“He is very good to jump, he is a lovely horse and seems to have a good future ahead of him.
“He is a big chaser in the making and whatever he does over hurdles will be a bonus, he isn’t a slow horse but will stay.”
Grand Paradis was one of two Elliott-trained victors on the card, the other being Thurles Racecourse Hunters Chase winner Jury Duty.
Sent off at 11-2, the 10-year-old took up the lead over the last fence and held off the challenging Stand Up And Fight to prevail by three-quarters of length under Jamie Codd.
Last season’s surprise Cheltenham Festival Hunter Chase winner It Came To Pass was towards the rear of the field before unseating Maxine O’Sullivan over the third fence from home.
Kilkenny trainer David O’Brien also enjoyed a double on the card, his first ever, beginning with Minx Tiara’s victory in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares Novice Chase.
The six-year-old mare was a facile 14-length winner under Sean Flanagan, relishing the heavy ground to justify her status as evens favourite.
“Everything went well, she jumped well and loves that type of ground,” said O’Brien.
“She was unlucky in her point-to-point when she was nearly brought down with a circuit to go and her jockey Eoin O’Brien left her to coast home and got her confidence back. The owners decided to hold on to her then and she has paid them back well now with three wins.”
He added: “I had thought about getting black type and while I’d rather get another few chases into her, given the time of year something like the Grade Three novice chase at Limerick (March 14) might suit as it would be great for her pedigree.”
O’Brien’s second triumph was then provided by Cusp Of Carabelli, who obliged in the We’re In This Together Handicap Chase.
“I feel like a proper trainer now!” O’Brien said after the 9-2 victory, with both winning horses owned by the same Fastey For Fun Syndicate.
“That was lovely and I’m so delighted for the syndicate, both the winners were cheap horses and they’re after having great fun with them.
“Minx Tiara was bought for €1,000 and this lad cost €900 and that’s his fifth win and my first double.”
Henry de Bromhead’s Ain’t That A Shame (5-4) lost his maiden tag when taking the I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle under Rachael Blackmore.
The seven-year-old gelding came home three lengths ahead of 10-11 favourite Churchstonewarrior after running prominently throughout.
“I’m delighted with that, he stayed really well and Rachael seemed really happy with him,” De Bromhead said.
“He jumps and stays well, is a scopey big horse who has taken time, but it is nice to see him come to himself.
“We’ll look at the festivals and the three-mile options, maybe the handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse. I’m looking forward to getting him over a fence next year.”
Elsewhere on the card, Fighting Fit (6-5 favourite) took the Connolly’s Red Mills Ladies Handicap Hurdle for Aine O’Connor and Philip Dempsey, with the concluding Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares INH Flat Race giving Codd a double as Mollys Glory prevailed as the 6-4 market leader for Michael Grassick.
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