Group One winner Helvic Dream got off the mark under the National Hunt code in the Navan Ford & Opel Maiden Hurdle.
Noel Meade’s seven-year-old started out over timber this season following a successful Flat career that saw him win the Tattersalls Gold Cup from Broome in 2021.
He was also a Group Three winner, with many placed runs in good quality events on the level on his CV as well, but his first two attempts over obstacles ended in defeat earlier in the term.
The gelding was an 11-2 chance under Sam Ewing and was towards the rear of the leading group of six horses when turning for home, having travelled in mid-division for much of the race.
He met the last wrong and landed in a heap but was able to regain his momentum in impressive style to pick off the horses ahead of him and prevail by half a length.
“That was great. The danger was getting home in the ground and then the last didn’t help,” said Meade.
“He actually stuck at it well in the ground. Finbar (Cahill, co-owner) was in Mexico and Tom (Hendron, co-owner) was in the Canaries and I said to them that I thought he’d win – and then I started to worry about the ground.
“I nearly would have preferred if it stayed raining and it was kind of loose.
“We’ll see what happens, it’s taken him a while to get the hang of it. First, we had to get him to settle, which took a long time.
“He’s jumping very well at home and he is very good. I’d say he will be better when he gets a little bit better ground, he does like it soft but a little bit better than that.”
Meade does not have any big hurdling plans for the gelding yet and aims to give him more experience in the discipline before a Flat campaign in the summer.
He said: “He’s still novicey for anything big, so I would have thought we’ll try and get another run into him somewhere and then tip along. He will go back on the Flat again this year.
“I said the other day that if he was in a Group race (on the Flat), I’d fancy him because he’s that well in himself.”
Cantico made light work of the William Hill Bet10Get5 On Irish Racing INH Flat Race for Willie Mullins and his son Patrick.
The five-year-old won his sole point to point start and was third on his bumper debut when contesting a Leopardstown event on Boxing Day.
He was the favourite on that occasion and headed the market again at Navan, starting at 4-11 and securing a six-length victory in the yellow and brown silks also worn by Galopin Des Champs.
“We were disappointed to get beaten at Christmas and I think he improved from it,” said Patrick Mullins.
“He could be a horse for nicer ground, he shows more gears at home than he has on the track and maybe that’s just the soft ground blunting his speed.
“We hope that he’s even better than the bare result there, even though he was very good.
“He was on his own there as well and he is a raw horse, he has been that way since we started, and I think he’ll improve for racing.”
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