Land made to fight for Juvenile win
A good jump at the last helped JCB Triumph Hurdle favourite Landofhopeandglory maintain his unbeaten jumping record in the Bar One Racing Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse.
The classy Flat performer had not been tested in his first two outings over timber and was sent off the even-money favourite to win again for Joseph O'Brien.
However, he had a real fight on his hands as the Willie Mullins-trained Bapaume had them all on the stretch.
It all came down to who jumped the final flight the best and while Ruby Walsh's mount landed on all fours, the High Chaparral gelding flew it under Barry Geraghty and went on to win by a length.
Geraghty said: "It rode like a decent race. It was a bit tactical and Ruby was trying to dictate from the front, which we were all aware of, but when you have the horse it's always much easier.
"He missed the second-last, but I made his mind up going to the last and he winged it. He's shaping up to be a Triumph Hurdle horse."
O'Brien said: "It was a good performance. They kind of sprinted down over the last two. He had to be right and Barry gave him a great ride. It was his biggest test so far.
"We'd have to think about Christmas now. It will be one step at a time with him, but you'd be delighted with today.
"The faster they go for him, the better he'll be you'd imagine. I was delighted with that and Barry was delighted.
"He jumped better today, he was a bit more measured. Barry said he was a bit big at the first, but other than that he was a bit better. Each race that is getting better.
"It's probably as good a three-year-old hurdle as has been run in Ireland anyway."
Asked to compare with last season's Triumph winner Ivanovich Gorbatov he said: "Ivanovich went to Christmas for his maiden, while this lad is after having three runs.
"They are different models and it's hard to compare the two of them because they aren't similar types really."
Sky Bet cut the winner a point to 7/1 for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March and representative Michael Shinners said: "It was another good performance from the winner as he was giving weight away to a decent field – possibly the best juvenile race of the season – and has battled well.
"He's our Triumph favourite while the runner-up is into 16/1 as Rich Ricci suggested he might just have needed the outing so more can be expected from him."
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