Chief Justice got the better of a pulsating duel with stablemate Coeur Sublime to claim top honours in the 30 Euros Free Bet baroneracing.com Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
Having beaten subsequent Royal Ascot runner-up and St Leger third Southern France on his sole Flat start before making a successful start to his jumping career at Down Royal, Coeur Sublime was the 8-11 favourite to follow up in this Grade Three contest under Bryan Cooper.
The Cheveley Park Stud-owned Chief Justice had an experience edge, having won his first three starts over hurdles before finishing second in the Wensleydale Hurdle at Wetherby and he was a 5-1 shot in the hands of Davy Russell.
It was clear on the run to the final flight that Gordon Elliott’s pair had it between them and after both horses gave their all on the run-in, they flashed by the post almost as one before the judge confirmed Chief Justice the winner by a short-head.
The front-running Lever Du Soleil was best of the rest in third.
Elliott said: “The other horse (Coeur Sublime) was a bit unlucky as he got a bit under the second-last and the other lad got first run on him.
“The winner gave him 7lb so it was a fair performance.
“I thought Coeur Sublime was the horse to beat, but this lad (Chief Justice) is a bit of a monkey and obviously has plenty up his sleeve.”
RaceBets cut Chief Justice to 25-1 from 40-1 for the JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, while easing the runner-up to 20-1 from 16-1 for the same race.
Elliott went on to complete a four-timer on the afternoon, with Delta Work landing the Drinmore Novice Chase and Apple’s Jade winner her third Hatton’s Grace Hurdle before Envoi Allen made a successful debut under rules in the bumper.
Bought by Cheveley Park for £400,000 after winning his point-to-point, Envoi Allen was the 4-9 favourite under Jamie Codd and although he showed signs of his inexperience early in the home straight, he came through to beat Port Stanley by four lengths.
Elliott said: “He’s a nice horse, but he’s a horse for next year. We’re only minding him this year.
“He’ll probably have one more run in a bumper and he won’t be going to Cheltenham.
“He’s a baby and has only been on grass once.”
It was also an excellent day at the office for Russell as wins aboard Delta Work and Wonder Laish in the Download The App baroneracing.com Handicap Hurdle provided him with a treble.
Trained by Charles Byrnes, Wonder Laish was a 100-30 favourite for the 100,000 euro contest, despite being handed a 17lb rise in the weights for winning at Navan three weeks ago.
He still appeared feasibly treated on the pick of his Flat form and cruised into the lead under a confident Russell before digging in to repel the late surge of Tudor City by half a length.
Byrnes said: “It was a big plus getting Davy. I asked Gordon earlier in the week and he said leave it with me, so I have to thank him.
“Davy gave him a brilliant ride. We had nothing to spare. He got 17lb for the last day and once again the handicapper was right.
“He’s a nice mark on the Flat to go back to next year. We could look at the Chester Cup if there’s a bit of dig in the ground.
“He could go for something like the race in Leopardstown (at the Dublin Racing Festival).”
Dinnie’s Vinnie produced a tremendous front-running performance to take the 1800 624 524 Telebetting Bar One Racing Porterstown Handicap Chase.
Luke Dempsey excelled in the saddle for his father, Philip, as the partnership triumphed at the track for the third time.
Undressed, the 2-1 favourite, and then Major Destination looked dangers at various stages, but Dempsey had got all his fractions right and by the time they got to the final fence it was only a matter of getting over safely.
The 16-1 chance did just that and kept on strongly to account for Major Destination (also 16-1) by five and a half lengths. Fitzhenry was third.
Dempsey senior said: “He’s a horse that always keeps a bit for himself, but today he did more than I’ve ever seen him do. He looked better than I’d ever seen him and jumped brilliant. He likes a galloping track and loves it around here.
“He could go for the Thyestes. We’ll see about the ground and probably give Christmas a miss, and maybe the (Irish) National back here. He’d have to do something again to get into that.
“He’s been great for the owners (the Beattie family) and has won seven races now.”