Howyabud foiled the odds-on Horantzau D’Airy to spring a 25-1 surprise on his debut over the smaller obstacles in the Savills Maiden Hurdle at Leopardstown.
Second in two bumpers and a point-to-point, the four-year-old gelding made virtually all the running over two and a half miles in the hands of 5lb claimer Jack Foley to give Ellen Doyle her first winner as a trainer.
Howyabud cut out the early pace with Frontier General and Horantzau D’Airy on their heels. Once Frontier General had cried enough, the duo had the race between them and Howyabud drew clear in the closing stages to score by six lengths. Secret She Keeps was five and a half lengths away in third place.
“That’s our first track winner so we’re very happy,” said County Wexford-based Doyle.
“He had good bumper form and ran in a very good point-to-point in Monksgrange last time. We thought a lot of him coming here and were very happy with him.
“He was progressing along nicely and then Paul’s horse made a slight mistake, after that we were expecting him to do the job.
“I got the licence in March and have had seven or eight runners. I’m thrilled for the owner as Charlie (Carter) has been with us a long time and I’m happy to see him getting his win today.
“We’ll see what way he comes out of the race, go from there and see what the owner wants to do.”
Priory Park defied an 8lb rise to follow-up a Thurles success in the Irish Daily Star Christmas Handicap Hurdle.
With the low sun ruling out what is normally the final flight, there was a long run-in and Mark Walsh produced Edward O’Grady’s five-year-old to perfection.
He tracked the two leaders, Nazine and Carrig Rock, into the straight before sending Priory Park (9-2 joint-favourite) to the lead before going on to win by a length and a quarter from Nazine. Silvertown stayed on well to claim third place from Carrig Rock.
“Mark said they went a very moderate gallop and I was very worried with the last hurdle being missed because jumping is his forte, but you’d have to say he did it quite nicely,” said O’Grady.
“He had him in position A all the time. We’ll see what they would like to do with him now, he’ll go up a little bit.
“It’s lovely to have a winner here, we didn’t have too many runners. I bought him as a foal so I’m delighted.”
Panda Boy (16-1) came with a late run to spoil a gamble on Winter Fog in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle.
The lightly-raced five-year-old, trained by Martin Brassil and ridden by JJ Slevin, asserted from the re-inserted final flight to beat Winter Fog by three and a quarter lengths. Futurum Regem was a length away in third place.
Slevin said: “It was a good effort, he travelled well and jumped well. He’s a good, tough, game horse and he’s won well.
“His form was decent and I was hoping he’d run well but I wasn’t sure. I was hoping he was capable of being in the first five or six, but he stuck at it well and he was a good winner on the day.
“Over that trip he has a little bit of class and a bit of cruise about him, and that’s a good sign. Whatever he does over hurdles will be a bonus because he’s going to be a right chaser.”