Malone Road made his eagerly-awaited comeback a winning one with a debut victory over hurdles at Kilbeggan.
The highly-rated six-year-old had been sidelined for 642 days, but his return was worth the wait as Gordon Elliott’s charge enjoyed a smooth success in division two of the Hurley Family Maiden Hurdle.
Malone Road’s jumping was understandably novicey at first, but he settled nicely in front for Keith Donoghue.
Claude Greengrass kept him company until fading away before the business end and it was left to Broomfields Jerry to try to make a race of it, but Malone Road jumped the final flight four lengths clear and the 1-5 favourite extended his advantage to nine and a half lengths at the line. Dedanann was 14 lengths away in third place.
Bought for £325,000 guineas by Cheveley Park Stud after winning a point-to-point in Ireland, Malone Road won two bumpers in 2018 but a knee injury ended that campaign prematurely. Then he picked up an injury last November which extended his absence.
Malone Road was to have returned at Ballinrobe earlier this month, but was withdrawn as the ground was unsuitable.
Elliott said: “He was a bit rusty, but it’s good to have him back. He hadn’t any fast work done and was half sleepy going around there.
“It probably wasn’t the ideal track for him, but we have to start somewhere.
“He had two knee injuries and hopefully he’ll be OK in the morning after that. It’s baby steps and we might look at something in Listowel for him.”
Elliott also won division one with Curlew Hill (4-5 favourite), ridden by Luke Dempsey.