Benefficient seizes opportunity
Benefficient was a shock winner of a Grade One race for the second time in his career when taking a dramatic Frank Ward Solicitors' Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown.
A 50/1 chance when landing the Deloitte Novice Hurdle last winter, this time Tony Martin's charge made the most of a fall at the fourth fence of hot favourite Arvika Ligeonniere and had just headed Oscars Well when the latter made a hash of the last.
That left Benefficient, the 10/1 outsider of the three, to come home 20 lengths clear under Bryan Cooper.
"That's racing, we had the rub of the green today," said Martin. "We actually jumped the last a length in front of Oscars Well, so you can't say Benefficient was lucky with regards to him. I don't know, he might have won or he mightn't but I'm absolutely delighted."
Martin said: "He'll get an entry in the Arkle and Jewson (at Cheltenham). We'll pick what looks the lesser race and try and stay away from the likes of Simonsig. We'll set out to get place money, like today, and anything else is a bonus.
"He could wait for Liverpool as I'd much prefer a flat track and he disappointed at Cheltenham last year. I'd say the boys would be keen on going to Cheltenham again, though."
Arvika Ligeonniere's trainer Willie Mullins still grabbed a double through Fatcatinthehat and Abbey Lane.
The latter came with a strong late run to claim the valuable Boylesports.com Handicap Hurdle.
Ridden by the trainer's nephew Emmet Mullins, the 16/1 shot battled on stoutly on the run-in to win by two-and-a-half lengths.
"I'll have to have a chat with the owner but maybe we'll have a look at the County Hurdle at Cheltenham," Willie Mullins said. Stan James gave Abbey Lane a 16/1 quote for the County Hurdle.
Fatcatinthehat, wearing the Arvika Ligeonniere colours of Rich Ricci, made amends for a last-flight fall on his previous start with a cosy all-the-way win in the leopardstown.com Maiden Hurdle.
The 8/15 shot, ridden by Paul Townend, was not hard pressed to open his account over jumps by eight lengths from Ibsen and book his ticket to the Cheltenham Festival.
Texas Jack (6/1) was given a canny ride by Paul Carberry to win the Boylesports.com – Bet On Your Mobile Novice Chase.
Farrells Fancy (9/1) kept Sweeney Tunes at bay by a head to lift the Leopardstown Handicap Chase. Mala Beach (11/2) got Gordon Elliott on the scoresheet in the Ryan's Cleaning Maiden Hurdle while Le Vent D'Antan (7/4 favourite) made a winning debut in the bumper.
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