Home Farm made a winning start to life with trainer Henry de Bromhead and may have put himself in the frame as a long shot for some lucrative options at Thurles yesterday afternoon.
In extremely foggy conditions, Shark Hanlon's Hidden Cyclone made his seasonal reappearance in the listed John Meagher Memorial Chase. Having sustained career-threatening injuries in the Boylesports Champion Chase at Punchestown back in April, he was sent off the 6/4 joint favourite, along with Home Farm, and it was the two market leaders who settled down to battle it out.
A fall at the last, however, for the Ryanair Chase runner-up Hidden Cyclone ended the contest and Home Farm, who always looked to hold the upper-hand, went on to score readily under David Casey with Foildubh taking up the second place.
Bookmakers Paddy Power introduced Home Farm at 33/1 for the English Grand National at Aintree and also gave him a first show of 14/1 for the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas. Home Farm had run well in big handicaps for Arthur Moore last season and De Bromhead was delighted to get off to a winning start with the seven-year-old.
"His form was rock solid before he came to us and he had a wind-op at the end of last season which made a huge difference to him," revealed the winning trainer.
The in-form Waterford handler continued: "I'm delighted to get him, he's a lovely horse and jumps amazing. He'd been third in an Irish National and he was fifth in a Paddy Power last Christmas so we'll see what the handicapper thinks of it and we'll discuss plans with the owner and come up with a plan in the next few weeks.
"We were fairly wrong at the weights with Hidden Cyclone but this was just to get our lad started and see where we were with him."
De Bromhead did suggest that Aintree could be his ultimate target at the latter half of the season.
"I'd imagine he'd be an ideal candidate for the Grand National. The better the ground, the better he is. With goodish ground he'd love it around there."
The trainer of Sizing Europe is yet to make any firm plans for his stable star's next stop after disappointing in the Clonmel Oil Chase last week, admitting: "It just wasn't for him on the day."
Barry Geraghty is going to be in action across the water more so than on home soil over the coming months but he made his trip to Thurles worthwhile when teaming up with Michael Hourigan for a double on two nice horses for the Limerick trainer.
Aerlite Supreme, who ended up a 130 hurdler last season, opened his account over fences in good style in the beginners chase, with the winning trainer saying: "I'm going to chance going to the Drinmore with him. You'll see the best of him chasing."
While Drumacoo made it two from two in the novice hurdle.