GORDON Elliott's progressive Cause Of Causes could be heading back to England after following up his recent Ascot success with a tenacious triumph at Navan.
The Co Meath trainer has never been afraid to send his runners across the Irish Sea and that ploy reaped rich rewards last month when Cause Of Causes finished late and fast under Davy Condon to land the prestigious Ladbroke Handicap Hurdle at Ascot.
Once again, Condon excelled in the saddle yesterday as he guided the son of Dynaformer to a short-head victory over 5/6 favourite Midnight Game.
Coming down to the final flight, the market leader was travelling far better in the hands of Davy Russell, but Condon kept pushing away and his mount winged the last before galloping up the hill to snatch the spoils.
"It was a bit of a cat-and-mouse race and a better pace would have suited," Elliott said. "He's an honest horse. He'll go now for the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on February 9."
Tom Mullins' smart hurdler Alderwood made it third time lucky over fences in the EBF Beginners' Chase, even though much of the race went unseen due to fog. Sent off the 8/11 favourite, Alderwood beat off Prima Vista by a length and a half under Mark Walsh.
"It turned into a bit of a slog in the end but I'm happy nonetheless," said Mullins. "We'll try to keep him away from that ground and he may run in a handicap before Cheltenham.
"That was not an Arkle performance and I'd be thinking in terms of a handicap for him at Cheltenham."
The card's feature, the Foxrock Handicap Chase, was also not much of a show for spectators due to the rising fog, but it did, at least, produce an exciting finish.
The climax to the two-and-a-half-mile contest saw Rich Revival and Fever Pitch engage in a thrilling duel, with the former – trained by Liz Doyle and ridden by Brian O'Connell – taking the honours by a head. Doyle's partner, Barry Murphy, said of the 8/1 winner: "It's nice to come up here and get a good pot like that. We may look at a better class handicap now."
Ruby Walsh rode a winner on his only ride of the day as Suntiep (7/4f) supplemented his Limerick bumper success to land the staying maiden hurdle for Willie Mullins.
Noel Meade's Blissful Moment (15/8f) opened his account over obstacles with a determined effort in the 2013 Navan Membership Maiden Hurdle for Paul Carberry. Elliott and Carberry combined for doubles as 3/1 favourite Barneys Honour cruised clear in the Meath Handicap Hurdle.