Ifyoucatchmenow got up in the dying strides to deny Agusta Gold in an attritional race for the BoyleSports Grand National Trial Handicap Chase at Punchestown on Tuesday.
Running in a handicap for the first time, the Willie Mullins-trained Ifyoucatchmenow was brought with a determined late challenge by 5lb claimer Conor McNamara.
The 14/1 chance only jumped the last in third place, but knuckled down well to nail Agusta Gold close home for victory by a head.
Cheb De Kerviniou was two and three-quarter lengths away in third, with General Principle fourth. Only six completed the three-and-a-half-mile course.
Mullins said: “It’s great for Conor. We have been using him for a while and it’s nice to get a big winner for him.
“She stays every yard of that trip. I thought she would have won more races by now, but maybe she just needs that extended trip.
“We’ll look for something over that trip on soft ground. She’ll struggle to get into the Irish National and she could go for the three-mile-six race here at the festival meeting.”
However, there was a sting in the tail for McNamara, who picked up a six-day ban for using his whip with excessive frequency.
GRADE 3 WINNER
Run Wild Fred (14/1) stuck on gamely to claim Grade 3 honours in the Surehaul Mercedes-Benz Novice Hurdle.
Mark Walsh pushed Gordon Elliott’s six-year-old into the lead from the third-last flight and shrugged off the attentions of 8/11 favourite Lord Royal to win by a length and three-quarters. The two protagonists were 13 lengths clear of Floueur in third place.
Elliott said: “He’s a grand, big galloping horse. Mark gave him a great ride and kicked at the right time. He won snug enough as he half jammed-on at the last.
“He’s an unassuming type of horse and it was a good performance. He was in all the handicaps at Cheltenham, but that won’t do him any good! There is plenty of prize money at home as well so we’ll see what we’ll do.”
Elliott completed a double when Pencilfulloflead (4/6 favourite) took the Leinster Leader Maiden Hurdle under Robbie Power.
"He’s a proper big staying chaser and that’s what he was bought to be,” said Elliott. “Robert said he’s just a bit mentally immature the way he jumps. He could be better over a fence. He’s a big baby. He’ll stay at home and we’ll keep him for something small and see how we go.”
Neverushacon (4/1) wore down long-time leader Ballybroker Bridge to land the P.P. Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase and book his place in that discipline at Cheltenham.
Ballybroker Bridge made a brave attempt to make all the running and was still in front coming to the last, but Neverushacon had him in his sights.
Jessica Harrington’s charge hit the front on the run-in and went on to score by two and a quarter lengths under Paddy Kennedy. Ballybroker Bridge held on for second, half a length ahead of Yanworth, the 9/10 favourite.
Harrington said: “David (Reid Scott, owner) has been in the Mater Hospital with a spinal injury since June 16th last year and it’s great that nearly all his grandchildren are here today.
“David’s daughter Camilla was watching the race with him up in the Mater and that will give him a great boost.
“The horse absolutely loves it and roll on Cheltenham. Every time he sees a fence he wants to go again.
“I thought the ground might be a bit heavy for him and hopefully he’ll get a bit of nice ground in Cheltenham. He stays really well.”
Harrington and Walsh combined to complete doubles with Barrington Court (4/1) in the Black Hills Mares Maiden Hurdle.
The J.P. McManus-owned six-year-old just outpointed Getaway Gorgeous by a head in a terrific duel to the line.