Castlegrace Paddy ended a 15-month barren spell with victory in the Grade Two Webster Cup Chase at Navan.
The nine-year-old has been highly tried by Pat Fahy after winning the Hilly Way Chase back in December 2018, finishing a distant third in last year’s Champion Chase at Punchestown and then fourth behind Chacun Pour Soi on his return this term in the Dublin Chase.
However, he was last of five on his latest run and went off a 100-30 shot in a four-runner field which also featured last year’s Topham Chase winner Cadmium and Grade One hero Ornua.
It was Ornua who set out to make all under Davy Russell, and he still appeared to have plenty in reserve with three to jump as Paul Townend started to get to work on 6-5 favourite Cadmium – who found little when asked.
That left Ornua and Castlegrace Paddy to battle it out over the final two fences, with the pair jumping the last in unison before Bryan Cooper managed to conjure an extra effort from the winner.
Castlegrace Paddy came home two and three-quarter lengths clear, with Cadmium 22 lengths back in third and the same distance again to the only other runner, Solar Heat.
Fahy said: “That was great. Bryan said at Leopardstown to keep this race in mind.
“He said at Naas he gave a blow at the wrong time. When they all quickened he gave a blow, and he had to give him a chance.
“I had thought about going for the Grand Annual (at Cheltenham) and thought he was well in, but (adviser) Joe Foley and (owner) Steve Parkin wanted to come for this – and when we saw the entries, it looked like the right move.
“I’d say the ground is still heavy enough for him. All the times he’s won it’s been soft ground, but ground that he can jump off – whereas there he has to get down and jump and can’t be slick enough – but he was good today.
“I’m delighted for Steve Parkin, who has stuck by me, and Joe Foley.
“We had said if we won this we might go to Aintree, but we’ll see. This was the main objective – and we got it.”