Abacadabras denied Willie Mullins a 10th successive win in the Unibet Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown as he beat Saint Roi by a neck in a thrilling finish.
Narrowly denied in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in March, Abacadabras was beaten on his return to action at Down Royal while County Hurdle winner Saint Roi had cruised to victory at Tipperary last month.
Sent off the 10-11 favourite, Saint Roi appeared to be going as well as anything turning into the straight, but Mark Walsh was soon struggling for racing room.
Coeur Sublime briefly threatened to break away, only to be reeled in by Jason The Militant before the Gordon Elliott-trained Abacadabras (13-8) hit the front under Jack Kennedy.
Saint Roi got going after the last and was closing all the time, but as Walsh forced his way between the eventual winner and Jason The Militant, the line came too soon with Abadcadabras holding on.
Elliott said: “I definitely knew he’d improve from Down Royal, where he took a blow after the second last. He came forward from the run and he needed to in a race like that.
“It was a good performance and he’d be better suited by a strongly-run race on better ground and produced later. Jack had to go on when he did.
“The logical next race is Leopardstown at Christmas.”
Kennedy said: “I was happy enough the whole way. Just coming across the bottom, he put in a few clumsy jumps.
“I got there way too soon. When it was Coeur Sublime beside me, I wanted to get him under pressure as he hadn’t had a run this season and my lad did. It worked out that I was there too soon and he idled in front.
“A stronger gallop would have suited. I was waiting for them to come at me, but the line came in time.”