Run Wild Fred halved in price for the Grand National as Gordon Elliott’s charge got off the mark over fences at the ninth attempt with a commanding display in the Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan.
The seven-year-old – one of seven Elliott-trained runners in the Ladbrokes-sponsored feature – led his 15 rivals a merry dance with a bold, front-running display coupled with a superb round of jumping.
Davy Russell had company on Run Wild Fred through Defi Bleu, one of his stablemates, in the early stages, while Mister Fogpatches was always prominent and emerged as the main threat at the business end.
However, the 4/1 favourite never looked like stopping, having shown staying was his game when runner-up in the Irish Grand National last season. Mister Fogpatches was collared in the final strides by Farclas to give Elliott a one-two, seven-and-a-half lengths behind the winner.
“I’m delighted for myself, number one, to win the race, for all the staff in the yard, for all my owners as well. Gigginstown have stood by me 100 per cent through thick and thin,” said Elliott. “It’s a proud day to be here at my local track and it’s brilliant with family and friends enjoying it as well.
“As everyone knows, we’ve been through a tough year, but we’re back now and we’re training winners. The team I’ve behind me is unbelievable.”
Run Wild Fred was cut to 6/1 favourite for the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham, and to 16/1 for Aintree.
Earlier, Elliott and Russell initiated a double with Hollow Games, which looked an exciting prospect when justifying prohibitive odds in the John Lynch Carpets & Flooring Monksfield Novice Hurdle.
The 2/5 favourite had started at an even more restrictive 1/9 when making a successful debut over the smaller obstacles at Down Royal last month, after wins in two bumpers and a point-to-point.
Wowsham shared the early running with Hollow Games, in what was only a sedate pace until the field closed up coming to the third-last, where Wowsham was the first beaten.
The market leader held all the aces and was always in command, powering over the last to score by just over two lengths from Lunar Display.
Elliott said: “He’s a nice horse, it turned into a sprint. Davy said after the race, ‘He’s not as slow as you think he is. When it turned into a sprint, he quickened, put his head out and galloped’.”
The Grade One Lawlor’s Of Naas Novice Hurdle is now likely to be his next target.
Noel Meade, Navan trainer and chairman of the racecourse which was celebrating its 100th anniversary, capped the landmark day by taking the closing Listed bumper with The Model Kingdom.
Having won well on her debut at Galway last month, the four-year-old was sent off a well-backed 2/1 favourite. She didn’t disappoint as she led two furlongs out in the hands of amateur rider Pat Taaffe and comfortably held Harmonya Maker by a length and a half. “I suppose we’ll look at the Dublin Racing Festival with her. If she gets through that, she’ll probably have another run,” said Meade.
There was a minor sting in the tail for Taaffe, as he picked up a three-day ban for his use of the whip.
Fresh from their Betfair Chase success with A Plus Tard at Haydock on Saturday, Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Backmore combined to claim the beginners chase with Kapard (5/2), which defeated odds-on favourite Mt Leinster by a half-length.