Velvet Elvis took full advantage of a fall at the third-last fence from odds-on favourite Corbetts Cross to win a drama-filled Fairyhouse Easter Festival 30th March To 1st April Rated Chase for the second year in a row.
The eight-year-old was trained by Thomas Gibney when successful in the staying contest 12 months ago, but was making his first start for Gavin Cromwell as he was sent off at 7-1 in the hands of Keith Donoghue.
Always at the head of the proceedings, Velvet Elvis escaped being caught up in the incident at the third-last fence where Corbetts Cross (1-4) came to ground just as he was beginning to edge his way into the four-runner contest.
Derek O’Connor’s mount collided with Gordon Elliott’s Run Wild Fred in mid-air, with both succumbing on the landing side of the obstacle.
It left Velvet Elvis to battle out the finish Eklat De Rire and Henry de Bromhead’s charge ultimately proved no match, trailing home three and a quarter lengths adrift.
Cromwell said: “We’ll take it! We’ll never know what would have happened, but he jumped well.
“He won this race last year and a small field is probably ideal for him and he loves that ground.
“Hopefully, that will be a confidence booster for him.”
Victory in this race 12 months teed-up a shot at the Grand National for Velvet Elvis, but without an entry for Aintree this year, his new handler suggested they may target a return to Fairyhouse for the Irish equivalent.
Cromwell added: “I suppose we’ll look at the Irish National. He’s also in the National Trial at Haydock, but that will probably come too soon for him as it’s Saturday week. We’ll see how he comes out of this, but he’s very unlikely to go there.
“He’s probably not terribly well handicapped, but at the same time you’d have to consider an Irish National.”
There may have been no joy for owner JP McManus with top novice chasing prospect Corbetts Cross, but he gained compensation when Miss Pronunciation carried the green and gold silks to success in the Book Your Advanced Tickets Now Rated Novice Hurdle.
Padraig Roche’s seven-year-old coasted to a facile six-length triumph under Mark Walsh with the talented mare recording her third-straight victory this season.
Roche said: “That was great, she did it well. She’s starting to settle a lot better than she was and I’d say that’s bringing out the improvement in her.
“She loves that ground. We had the mother, she was a Topanoora mare and she loved that heavy ground. When it’s like that we’ll keep going and see what there is.
“The mother stayed but this one’s not slow, I’d say two miles on that ground is her trip. She’s improving the whole time.”
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