Kitten Rock purrs at Navan victory
Kitten Rock made a pleasing start to his fencing career with victory in the Crystalski.ie EBF Beginners Chase at Navan yesterday.
Sixth in the Champion Hurdle on his last race over hurdles, Edward O'Grady's five-year-old was given a decent test by Sizing Titanium, but his class shone through.
The pair had the two-mile heat between them over the last three fences, but Barry Geraghty always seemed pretty confident on Kitten Rock and the 4-6 favourite pulled clear on the run-in to score cosily by a length and a quarter.
O'Grady said: "I'm greatly relieved as he's not done one piece of work.
"He's so much heavier this year, and the ground has not been soft enough to do anything. I was on tenterhooks.
"Hopefully that is the start of a very good campaign. There is another race for him back here in four weeks' time."
Hidden Cyclone kept on dourly to grind out victory in thetote.com Fortria Chase at Navan.
Shark Hanlon's stable star jumped into the lead after Flemenstar ploughed through the third-last.
Though Hidden Cyclone (3-1) did not jump the last particularly well, he stuck to his task for Brian Hayes to score by six and a half lengths.
Days Hotel was runner-up for a second successive year, with Flemenstar a creditable third and Special Tiara a well-beaten last of the four finishers.
Last year's winner Twinlight was pulled up, while Bright New Dawn fell at the third fence.
Hayes, who lost his claim just a few months ago, was completing a quick double for Hidden Cyclone's owners, the Mee family, having struck on the John Kiely-trained Ancient Sands (7-1) in the St Johann Ski Resort Tirol Austria Handicap Hurdle.
Hidden Cyclone could go for the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase next month.
Hanlon said: "He's going to improve from that run. He got to the front too soon but, in fairness to Brian, they were all stopping around him.
"When he got to the front he did nothing, although the loose horse was a help.
"I'd say he'll go for the Durkan next. The big thing with him this year is that he's learned how to settle.
"Brian has done a great job on him at home, and I'm delighted for him.
"He rode him to win a bumper but hasn't ridden him over fences since."