Ballyadam maintained his unbeaten record over obstacles in a fascinating renewal of the BARONERACING.COM Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
Sent off the 8-15 favourite having won by a wide margin on his hurdling debut, Ballyadam faced much sterner opposition in this Grade One.
The field was tightly grouped throughout as Dewcup and The Very Man set only a steady pace, with N’golo and Gordon Elliott’s Ballyadam just behind in third and fourth.
When the pace quickened turning into the straight Jack Kennedy gave Ballyadam an inch of rein, and he quickened up smartly, but Cask Mate was making ground from the rear.
Ballyadam got in tight to the last as Cask Mate landed running and closed to within a length, but the favourite still had plenty left to go away again at the finish and win by a length and a half – with N’golo running on again into third.
Betfair make the winner their 13-2 favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in March.
Elliott said: “You couldn’t ask for more.
“Jack said he was a bit novicey – but it was only his second run over hurdles, so we can take plenty of positives out of it.
“Jack said it was just hands and heels after the last – he just gave him one little flick. He said there was plenty of horse left but he’s still a baby, plenty of learning to do.
“I was hoping he’d win, but it’s never that straightforward.
“I’d imagine he’ll go to Leopardstown (at Christmas) now. He’s a tough horse who stays as well. He relaxes now – he was very keen in his bumpers.”
Kennedy said: “I was delighted with him. He made a couple of mistakes but recovered from them well, so he’ll have learned plenty from today.
“It was steadily run, and we ended up sprinting down to the second last. My lad has plenty of gears and he kept going well in front. I was always happy that he was doing enough, so I didn’t knock him around.”