Castlegrace Paddy proved too strong for hot favourite A Plus Tard in the Tote Fortria Chase at Navan.
Henry de Bromhead's A Plus Tard filled the runner-up spot behind Ballyoisin in last year’s renewal of the Grade Two contest, and having since won a Grade One at Leopardstown and finished a close-up third in the Ryanair at Cheltenham, he was well fancied to go one better.
However, it was clear some way from home it was not going to be entirely straightforward for the favourite, as he jumped stickily on occasions under Rachael Blackmore behind his pacesetting stablemate Ornua.
After the latter dropped away early in the home straight, Pat Fahy’s 9-1 shot Castlegrace Paddy took over the lead, with both A Plus Tard (1-2F) and Eclair De Beaufeu in hot pursuit.
In the end it turned into a straight shootout and try as he might, A Plus Tard could never quite get on terms with Castlegrace Paddy, who passed the post half a length to the good in the hands of Bryan Cooper.
"He jumped brilliant and himself and Bryan seem to get on very well," said Fahy.
"Hopefully we can keep going in this direction. We won the Hilly Way Chase in Cork a couple of years ago, but didn’t have a great year after that, so we won’t get too carried away.
"More than likely we’ll look at Leopardstown over Christmas. He’s beaten a horse there that will probably improve a lot, but so will ours. I’d rate him him a serious horse.
"Maybe if the ground was good you’d be looking to go up in trip, but on that sort of ground I think that (two miles) is his trip."
Dual Cheltenham Festival hero Sire Du Berlais (9-2) made a winning return to action in the Lismullen Hurdle.
The JP McManus-owned eight-year-old has won the last two renewals of the Pertemps Final at the showpiece meeting in the Cotswolds for Gordon Elliott, but faced a step up in class and a drop in trip for this two-and-a-half-mile Grade Two.
The blinkered Sire Du Berlais was on the heels of the leaders rounding the home turn and responded to Mark Walsh's urgings on the run-in to get up and beat long-time leader French Dynamite by half a length.
Matthew Smith’s stable star Ronald Pump was sent off favourite on his first start since filling the runner-up spot in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, and was not completely done with when crashing out at the final obstacle.
Noel Meade’s Sixshooter finished third.
Elliott said: "It was a good performance. Mark said he needed the whole length of the straight to get there. He wants three miles.
"Obviously I’ll have to speak to Frank (Berry, owner’s racing manager) and JP, but I’d imagine the three-mile race in Leopardstown at Christmas would be the place to go with him now. He has no choice really now but to go for a Grade One.
"He’s been a great little horse around the yard. The Stayers’ Hurdle would look the race for him long-term."
The Jam Man (5-2f) made the most of a lenient mark over fences with a wide-margin victory in the Ladbrokes Troytown Chase.
Ronan McNally's charge has a rating of 143 over hurdles following seven victories, but returned to the larger obstacles for the first time since winning at Cartmel in June of last year a stone lower in the weights.
Fit from a recent spell on the Flat, including a victory on his latest outing at York last month, The Jam Man was heavily supported for a yard associated with gambles, and ultimately got the job done with the minimum of fuss.
With champion jockey Paul Townend in the saddle, the seven-year-old was settled towards the rear for much of the three-mile contest before making smooth headway before the home turn.
The Jam Man cruised to the front in the straight and pulled right away between the final two fences, passing the winning line 18 lengths clear of Roaring Bull, with Scoir Mear and Discordantly third and fourth respectively.
The Jam Man lives up to his favourite tag, winning well clear of the field after a great jumping performance under @PTownend, in the @Ladbrokes Troytown Handicap Chase. A great win for owner & trainer @McnallyRonan pic.twitter.com/LXvUzGza8B— Navan Racecourse (@NavanRacecourse) November 8, 2020
Townend had earlier produced N’Golo (9-1) with a well-time late run to claim the Grade Three For Auction Novice Hurdle for Willie Mullins.
A winner of two of his three previous starts over obstacles for the champion trainer, the grey finished with a flourish to score by a length and a half from Annexation, with Wide Receiver third.
Hot favourite Eskylane was only fifth.
There was a thrilling climax to the opening Ladbrokes Giving Extra Places Every Day Maiden Hurdle, with Noel Meade’s Joshua Webb (6-4) edging out favourite Grangeclare Native by a head under Sean Flanagan.
The stewards called an inquiry after the pair came close together in the closing stages, but the placings remained unaltered.