Ballyward ran out a wide-margin winner in a dramatic renewal of the Naas Racecourse Business Club Novice Chase.
Willie Mullins’ seven-year-old looked set to have a real battle on his hands approaching the final fence in the Grade Three event alongside Paul Nolan’s Discorama, only for the latter to take a crashing fall.
While both Discorama and Bryan Cooper escaped unscathed, it robbed the race of the exciting finish it deserved as a handful of promising novices were involved.
Henry de Bromhead’s Chris’s Dream attempted to make all for Robbie Power and was still in front approaching the home turn, where the challengers looked menacing.
They included Gordon Elliott’s Champagne Classic, not seen since winning at the Punchestown Festival in 2017 and who unsurprisingly just got tired close home having made a pleasing comeback.
It boiled down to who could jump the last best and whereas Ruby Walsh got a good leap out of Willie Mullins’ Ballyward (7-2), Discorama hit the deck, allowing Chris’s Dream to claim second.
Mullins said: “I’m delighted with that considering it was just his second run over fences. Whether we give him another run over a shorter trip for experience before Cheltenham I’m not sure.
“I’d imagine the RSA will be the race for him. He has lots of stamina and seems to jump well enough.”
RaceBets introduced the Andrea and Graham Wylie-owned gelding into the RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase betting at 6-1.
Walsh added: “There was plenty of form in the race and Champagne Classic ran a cracker after so long off.
“He wasn’t doing a lot in front, but it was a good run and I’m sure his trainer will be thinking of crossing the (Irish) sea (for Cheltenham).
“He’d improved a good bit for his first run and he had decent form over hurdles in the Albert Bartlett and at Punchestown.”