Elliott sets Irish National target after 'Folsom' gets Trial verdict
Folsom Blue recovered from a hesitant jump at the last to come out on top in a thrilling finish to the BoyleSports Grand National Trial Handicap Chase at Punchestown.
The well-backed 5/1 favourite, which had led between the final two fences, was headed on landing after Isleofhopendreams negotiated the obstacle better.
However, Gordon Elliott's charge was galvanised by Jack Kennedy to regain the advantage on the run-in on what was his first race over fences this season after a spell hurdling.
Folsom Blue was a length and a half in command at the line with last year's winner Baie Des Iles 13 lengths back in third place. Space Cadet was another five lengths away in fourth.
"He's a great, honest horse. We sent him to England last week and they went no gallop so it was a bit of a worry coming back a week later. It was great," said Elliott.
"He kind of jammed on at the last but other than that Jack said he jumped good. He said if he had something with him he would have jumped it better but it worked out great and everyone is happy.
"I'd say he'll go for the Irish National. I'd say he'll definitely go there."
Hardline came out on top in the Novice Hurdle after leaders Riders Onthe Storm and Another Barney made mistakes at the second-last.
Riders Onthe Storm tried to go with Hardline when Davy Russell kicked on at that point, but he was always fighting a losing battle and Hardline crossed the line two-and-a-quarter lengths to the good.
Elliott said: "He's a grand horse. It probably didn't suit great with the other horse making a mistake as he was left in front. He's a horse that would be better off coming at them.
"He's probably just a bit below a Grade One horse, but he'll be a nice chaser next year."
Denis O'Regan was forced to miss his rides at Naas on Saturday due to illness but bounced back to win the Handicap Hurdle on Wood Emery (13/2).
Alan Fleming's charge, which hadn't been seen for a year, tackled the Elliott-trained favourite Swingbridge for the lead at the final flight and stayed on well to score by three-and-a-quarter lengths. Gilgamboa rallied gallantly to account for Burning Ambition in the Hunters Chase.
Having disputed the lead with My Murphy, the odds-on favourite took a clear lead at the final ditch.
Burning Ambition led over the last, but Nina Carberry threw everything at Gilgamboa and got the response she wanted as the evergreen 10-year-old battled back to prevail by two-and-three-quarter lengths.
The victory completed a double for trainer Enda Bolger and owner JP McManus, who combined to take the cross-country race with Auvergnat. "That was a proper race and the young horse served it up to him," said Bolger.