Duty takes Grade One honours
Death Duty extended his winning spree with victory in a dramatic renewal of the Lawlor's Hotel Novice Hurdle at Naas.
Death Duty won at Naas
Gordon Elliott's dual bumper winner had made a big impression in winning his first three outings over timber, including successive Graded-race victories at Navan.
The Gigginstown House Stud-owned six-year-old was the 5-6 favourite stepped up to Grade One level for the first time and duly obliged, but may have been a shade fortunate.
Turcagua made much of the running under Paul Townend, but both Death Duty and Jack Kennedy and Augusta Kate under Ruby Walsh moved towards the front jumping the second-last.
There was little to choose between Death Duty and Augusta Kate jumping the final obstacle when the latter crashed out, leaving the market leader in a clear lead.
In the end Death Duty passed the post with nine lengths in hand over Turcagua, with Blood Crazed Tiger in third.
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Sky Bet reacted by trimming Death Duty to 9-4 favourite from 11-4 for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Augusta Kate was cut to 16-1 from 33-1 by Paddy Power for the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at the showpiece fixture.
Elliott said: "To be honest, I thought they didn't go fast enough. I thought Blood Crazed Tiger would make them go a good gallop. Our lad is just an out-and-out stayer.
"They were upsides when the mare fell, so it's hard to say but the one thing you know about our horse is that he would have kept pulling out. Jack thought he had it covered.
"You never know when Ruby is upsides you, but our lad is a very good horse.
"He has his job done again and that will be it now until Cheltenham."
Assessing targets, Elliott said: "There is a long way to go between now and Cheltenham, but if the race was tomorrow, I'd be saying the Albert Bartlett definitely.
"He's a proper, big three-mile chaser. At this stage, of all the good horses I've had, none of them were ever as good as hurdlers as him, but that doesn't mean they'll do it as chasers. I'd say he's a fair one.
"He's honest and you even see walking around the parade ring nothing fazes him. He'd kind of frighten you, he's that laid back.
"He'll have a couple of easy weeks now and then Cheltenham will be the plan."
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