Fakir D’oudairies saw off dual Champion Hurdle runner-up Melon to make a successful start to his career over fences at Navan.
The Willie Mullins-trained Melon was the 9-10 favourite for the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase, with Joseph O’Brien’s Fakir D’oudairies the clear danger at 2-1 – receiving a handy 8lb allowance as the only four-year-old in the field.
Fourth in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, before filling the runner-up spot in Grade One company at Aintree and Punchestown, Fakir D’oudairies was particularly impressive in the jumping department in the hands of Mark Walsh.
Having cut out much of the running, the JP McManus-owned youngster was tracked into the straight by Melon and Paul Townend, but found plenty for pressure to win the argument by three lengths.
O’Brien said: “He was a decent horse last year and he loves that bit of juice in the ground.
“I’m delighted to see him jump so well. He was a good jumper at home, obviously, but they have to go and do it. He’s a very exciting horse.
“He could go for the Drinmore or something. He doesn’t have to go further than two miles, but I’m fairly confident he’ll stay further.”
Fakir D’Oudairies was completing a treble on the day for McManus and Walsh, with Ballyoisin successfully defending his crown in the Fortria Chase and Andy Dufresne maintaining his unbeaten record with a foot-perfect display in the P.S. Supplies Doors & Floors Maiden Hurdle.
A £330,000 purchase for his leading owner after winning a point-to-point, Gordon Elliott’s inmate could not have been more impressive on his debut under rules in a Down Royal bumper in late January.
Making his first appearance since, the 9-10 favourite jumped slickly from the front and readily pulled 11 lengths clear of eventual runner-up Cobbler’s Way.
Elliott said: “He’s a nice horse. He did everything right, and Mark said he showed loads of pace.
“He said you could even bring him back to two miles.
“He’s in the Royal Bond in Fairyhouse – obviously I have to talk to Frank (Berry, owner’s racing manager) and all the lads.”
The Ross O’Sullivan-trained Theatre World justified 7-2 favouritism in the navanracecourse.ie Handicap Hurdle under Luke Dempsey.
“That’s great. He’s improved again,” said O’Sullivan.
“He’ll jump a fence soon – he’s a real three-mile chaser.”
Gary McGill’s Dollys Destination (8-1) benefited from an ice-cool ride from 5lb claimer Conor Orr in the Hotel Park St Johann Tirol Austria Handicap Hurdle – coming from a long way back to win decisively at the line.
“We thought we’d come down here today, and we’d have been happy with fifth or sixth, but she flew home,” said McGill.
“We actually thought we’d run today, see how we go and then come back here in two weeks’ time. Hopefully that’ll be the plan.”
Noel Meade’s Joshua Webb was a 10-1 winner of the concluding bumper, with 7lb claimer Eoin Walsh doing the steering.