Farouk D’alene just held off the late thrust of Vanillier in a war of attrition for the Lyons Of Limerick Jaguar Land Rover Novice Hurdle at Limerick on Monday.
The race was transferred from Sunday’s card – which was cancelled because of waterlogging – and while the going was still extremely deep, it was at least raceable.
It nonetheless made the two-mile-seven-furlong trip an extreme test for a field of novices who did not have that much experience to call upon.
Gordon Elliott’s Farouk D’alene took over from Costalotmore with a mile to run and appeared to have everything in hand under Jody McGarvey.
But turning into the straight, Darrens Hope looked a big threat before her stamina ran out between the last two.
It was left to Vanillier, who had been ridden patiently by Conor Maxwell, to keep the 2/1 favourite up to his work after the last – having lost a bit of momentum with a slow jump – but he was able to hold on by three-quarters of a length.
McGarvey said: “It is very tough work out there and it takes a lot of getting. It was my first time riding him – and he was super tough, jumped and travelled beautifully. He dug deep up the straight when I needed him and ground it out well to the line.
“I was confident he’d stay, but we went a nice enough gallop for the ground and it was going to be hard work – (so) thankfully I was able to save enough before the turn-in to get me home.”
McGarvey had earlier teamed up with Willie Mullins to win the Future Ticketing Maiden Hurdle on Ciel De Neige, runner-up in the Betfair Hurdle last season at Newbury.
After the favourite’s two-and-a-quarter-length success, at the prohibitive odds of 1/8, Mullins said: “He eventually got his head in front. He did what he was asked to do.
“He’s just a horse that makes life hard on himself. Hopefully he can go on now and progress from that.”
J.P. McManus, owner of Ciel De Neige, had a second winner on the card when The Long Mile (18/1) won the Grade B Tim Duggan Handicap Chase for trainer Philip Dempsey and jockey Niall Madden.
One of four McManus-owned runners in the race, The Long Mile eased alongside long-time leader Articulum approaching the second last fence, before stretching clear on the run to the last.