Mala Beach coasts home to seal Elliott four in a row
Mala Beach provided Gordon Elliott with his fourth straight victory in the Ladbrokes Troytown Chase at Navan yesterday.
Having won the last three renewals of the prestigious handicap, the Cullentra handler appeared intent on adding to his tally, saddling five runners in a 21-strong field.
Mala Beach, runner-up on his seasonal re-appearance at Galway last month, was a 12/1 shot in the hands of Davy Russell and moved smoothly into contention from the home turn.
Bonny Kate was in front jumping the second fence from the finish, but Mala Beach soon took over and galloped all the way to the line to score by two-and-three-quarter lengths.
Dont Tell No One finished strongly to fill the runner-up spot ahead of Bonny Kate and Poormans Hill.
Acapella Bourgeois was a heavily-backed 7/4 favourite on his first start for Willie Mullins, but the top-weight fell with over a circuit still to run.
Russell said: "It's a fabulous race to win. I was lucky to win in the past and it's great to win it again.
"We went a really good gallop and I knew I was riding a good horse. I couldn't do much about the weight (11st 9lb), so I just had to go with the pace and slot him in behind the leaders."
Elliott said: "In fairness to that horse, he has been threatening to win a big race for a long time.
"Simon (McGonagle), my head man, rides him out every day at home and he had full confidence in him. He said he'd love the ground and thought he would go close.
"It hasn't been easy - it has been a long road. He was running in a Bobbyjo Chase a couple of years ago and fell at the second-last, so he deserved to win that today."
Samcro set up a double for Elliott by extending his unbeaten record with a dominant display in the Monksfield Novice Hurdle.
Elliott has made no secret of the regard in which he holds the five-year-old, which was snapped up for £335,000 by Gigginstown House Stud after winning his only point-to-point.
Having won each of his three bumpers last season before making a successful hurdling debut at Punchestown in October, he was a prohibitively-priced 1/4 favourite stepped up to Grade Three level and the result was scarcely in doubt.
Jack Kennedy cut a confident figure throughout the two-and-a-half-mile contest and only had to let out an inch of rein for Samcro to pull clear between the final two flights.
He winged the last hurdle to seal a most impressive victory over Jetz, with another Elliott inmate, Delta Work, third.
Kennedy said: "That was unreal. Everything comes naturally to him. He relaxes and jumps great. I pulled him out to give him a look at the third-last and he was gone. He just took off.
"I was fairly rattling down to the last. He's a natural jumper. You just leave it to him, there's no need to do anything."
He added: "I'd say he'll get further, but I'd probably be sticking to two-and-a-half.
"I was still in school when Don Cossack (Elliott-trained Gold Cup winner) was coming through, but I can only imagine he's up there."
Elliott was similarly impressed, saying: "That was a good performance and he did it very well. Jack said he gave him a bit of light at the third-last and he just took off on him.
"It was nice to see he could do that (over two and a half miles), so we have loads of options.
"I'd say he will be (better on better ground). I just said to Davy Condon at the start that the one worry I had was that it was his first time on that real heavy ground.
"Most good horses win on every ground and he looks a real nice one. We are lucky to have him.
"I don't know if we'll go for Christmas. We might wait for the race in Naas (Grade One Lawlor's Hotel Novice Hurdle).
"He's obviously a horse for next year and whatever he does over hurdles will be a bonus this year. I thought that was a bit special, what he did there, it was class."
Red Devil Lads was a game winner of the Handicap Hurdle for Emmet Mullins and David Mullins, while Al Boum Photo made a successful start to his career over fences in the Beginners Chase under Paul Townend.
A Grade Two-winning novice hurdler last term, Mullins' charge was sent off the 4/5 favourite and his task was made easier by the first-fence departure of his main market rival Le Martalin, which carried on loose and brought That's A Wrap down at the next.