Punchestown Day Two: Round-up
Beat That showed guts and class in equal measure to claim the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.
An 11-8 favourite following an impressive display on his first start over three miles at Aintree, the Nicky Henderson-trained six-year-old travelled powerfully in the hands of Barry Geraghty.
Ruby Walsh was far more animated aboard the Willie Mullins-trained Don Poli at the top of the home straight, but stuck to his guns to make a race of it.
The two touched down almost as one after jumping the final flight, but Beat That won the argument by three-quarters of a length.
Henderson has the summer to consider whether his charge should remain over hurdles next season or pursue a career over fences.
He said: "Barry said he wasn't quite as fresh as he felt at Aintree, but that was a tough race.
"He's a very progressive horse. He missed Cheltenham, went to Aintree and is a very exciting one to put away over the summer to think about what we're going to do.
"He and Whisper are the two that look like chasers, but the three-mile (hurdle) division is wide open and we do have to think about whether one stays over hurdles for another season.
"Which one does, I don't know."
Geraghty said: "He's a big, weak horse and I didn't want to get into a scrap too soon.
"He should be a real horse next year."
Shaneshill reversed Cheltenham Festival form with Silver Concorde to claim the Attheraces.com Champion INH Flat Race.
The latter had swept a length and a half clear of Shaneshill in the Champion Bumper in March, but it was an entirely difference scenario back on home turf.
Trained by Willie Mullins and owned by Graham Wylie, who had both lifted the Punchestown Gold Cup with Boston Bob 35 minutes earlier, the 5-1 scorer was always prominent under Jamie Codd as Killultagh Vic set the pace.
Shaneshill galloped into the lead at the top of the home straight and even though Silver Concorde continued to apply pressure, the even-money favourite was comprehensively beaten by two lengths.
Value At Risk came with a powerful late run to finish a close third.
Mullins said: "Jamie said he was going well and decided to take the bull by the horns.
"He looks like one for the staying novice hurdles next season."
Liz Doyle looked relieved to see Le Vent D'Antan show his very best in the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle.
The highly-respected Wexford trainer had struggled with her stable star after running him in last year's Champion Bumper at Cheltenham and he had only managed to collect in one of four previous starts over hurdles.
The 3-1 joint-favourite was on song for Davy Russell, brushing off the challenge of British raider Cheltenian and eventually coming six lengths clear.
"He had a huge blow after Fairyhouse last time and I've really got stuck into him for this," Doyle said.
"That'll be his last run over hurdles, and Davy said he'll be a stone better over fences.
"He was rotten with ulcers and I figured out he wants more than two miles. It's lovely to finish here on a good note."
Master Oscar (14-1) coped with very different conditions to record a Festival success in the Martinstown Opportunity Series Final Handicap Hurdle for trainer Christy Roche and jockey Jody McGarvey.
Roche said: "I wouldn't say it was a big plan, everyone wants to have a runner at Punchestown.
"He's a big, strong horse and I've always thought he'd jump a fence.
"He wants soft ground and I took a chance today."
Orpheus Valley held off the Tony McCoy-ridden Competitive Edge by half a length to land the Guinness Handicap Chase.
Adrian Heskin's companion made most of the running aboard the Tom Gibney-trained winner, but the line came just in time.
Competitive Edge stayed on stoutly, but the 5-1 favourite had to make to with second spot behind the surprise 28-1 scorer.
Gibney said: "It's just nice to be coming to these big meetings.
"I didn't know if he was fit enough as he had an injury and I had only had him back in for five weeks.
"He got a knock when second at Navan and I shouldn't have run him back here after that. It was a race against time to get him here"
Fletchers Flyer, trained by Harry Fry, then struck another blow for the Brits with a feisty triumph at odds of 9-2 in the concluding O'Reilly Recruitment INH Flat Race.