Hearts Are Trumps led home a JP McManus one-two in the RYBO Handicap Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
The feature handicap, the most valuable race on day one of the Easter Festival, was dominated by McManus’s famous green-and-gold silks.
Hearts Are Trumps, ridden by Jody McGarvey for trainer Des McDonogh, collared Magic Tricks after the last to win by half-a-length at 12-1.
The spring ground clearly suited the eight-year-old, who was a long-priced runner-up in the Galway Hurdle last July and running here for only the second time after a winter break.
“He deserved that. He’s a smashing horse,” said McDonogh.
“He’s very professional and jumped great. You can see the muck on his heels there – and he’d even like it better.
“The ground made a huge difference today. He even went to Listowel after Galway last year and he was beaten in the straight.”
The Galway Hurdle is again on the agenda this summer, and McDonogh added: “He might have a run on the Flat.
“He ran well in a maiden at Thurles when he was fourth. We could look at a mile-and-a-half, and he could even go two miles on the Flat.
“If he arrives in Galway in the same form as that, it’ll do.”
Willie Mullins’ Lady Breffni (8-1) had earlier prevailed in a blanket finish to the I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Novice Handicap Hurdle Series Final under Danny Mullins.
“I think the ground was a big help to her, because she just wasn’t getting home on winter ground,” said the winning trainer.
“I’m very happy for her owner Mark Dobbin.
“Danny gave her a great ride. He found himself a little further out than he wanted and he kept it all for one long run down the outside – which was fantastic, rather than trying to get mixed up with the other horses.
“I was very happy for him.”
Liz Lalor was a late call-up by Noel Meade for Ificudiwud (14-1) in the McCauley Pharmacy Ladies National Handicap Chase – but it worked a treat.
Meade said: “It was a close call, because I said to Eddie (O’Leary, of owners Gigginstown House Stud) at 9.50am that I couldn’t get anyone to ride him and we’d be better not running him.
“Suddenly it dawned on me to try Liz, who had ridden in a few bumpers for me. She said she was supposed to be riding for Colin Motherway and only rang back at 9.57am to say she could ride.
“He was fresh and he jumped great for her. He’s a funny horse – because he doesn’t like it fast and doesn’t like it soft.
“She said even when he went into a softish patch she could feel him coming back underneath her.
“He’s had an easy time because the ground was heavy, and it worked out well.”
Party Central (6-4 favourite) won the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Total Enjoyment Mares Flat Race, for Denise Foster and Jamie Codd.