Father-and-son combination Philip and Luke Dempsey foiled the big guns as Derrinross won Limerick’s Grade Two Sky Sports Racing Launching January 1st Novice Hurdle.
The lightly-raced seven-year-old was sent off a 7-2 chance, despite his comeback win in a Grade Three at Cork this month.
But jockey Luke Dempsey ensured this three-mile contest was a true staying test again – and giving 3lb and upwards to his juniors, Derrinross had enough to repel all challengers from the front.
They included two each from the all-powerful stables of Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins, the former with two of three representatives for prolific owners Gigginstown House Stud.
The winning trainer said: “He did it the hard way and he didn’t jump as well today.
“But Luke said he was looking around in front.
“He came out of his race well the last day and we were very happy with him. I was sort of thinking the others under performed at Cork and he obviously had to step up, and he was also giving away weight.”
Employing the front-running tactics which had not only worked at Cork but been to the fore in previous races on this card, Dempsey and his willing partner scored another notable victory for his father’s yard.
Elliott’s Defi Bleu was their nearest pursuer throughout and at the line, where the hard-fought winning margin was three-quarters of a length. Mullins’ 6-4 favourite Dorrells Pierji finished last of six in the bunch finish.
Dempsey senior is now considering plans for the upcoming Festivals on either side of the Irish Sea – and possibly a maiden trip to Cheltenham for himself.
He added: “We might have to look at bigger things now and while we mightn’t get a wet spring, if he gets soft ground he could run at the Dublin Racing Festival.
“I’d be fond of going to Cheltenham – I’ve never been there – and if he got soft ground, he’ll run in the Albert Bartlett.
“I think he’ll be better with a stronger gallop.
“He’s had plenty of issues and thankfully now he has bounced out and hopefully tomorrow he’ll be the same. We’ve had a great Christmas.”