Beat That shows guts for Geraghty
Nicky Henderson's British raider Beat That fended off the challenge of Don Poli in a pulsating climax to the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.
Beat That was all the rage for the three-mile Grade One as the 11-8 favourite following an impressive victory at Aintree. Barry Geraghty cut a confident figure in the saddle rounding the home turn, with Ruby Walsh far more animated aboard the Willie Mullins-trained Don Poli.
However, the latter dug deep for pressure and there was almost nothing to chose between the pair jumping the final flight. The duo settled down for a thrilling tussle and it was Beat That who won the argument by three-quarters of a length.
Don Poli, winner of the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Hurdle at Cheltenham, gave everything in second, with Lots Of Memories third.
The disappointment of the race was Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle winner Very Wood, who faded tamely in the straight after racing up with the pace.
Geraghty said: "He's a big, weak horse and I didn't want to get into a scrap too soon. I probably got into it soon enough, but he was good and has a bit of class. He should be a real horse next year."
Beat That was cut in price for the World Hurdle at Cheltenham next March, but his trainer has not yet decided whether he will be sent chasing.
Henderson said: "Barry said he wasn't quite as fresh as he felt at Aintree, but that was a tough race.
"He's a very progressive horse. He missed Cheltenham, went to Aintree and is a very exciting one to put away over the summer to think about what we're going to do.
"He's only had four hurdle races but he was so slick there.
"He and Whisper are the two that look like chasers, but the three-mile (hurdle) division is wide open and we do have to think about whether one stays over hurdles for another season. Which one does, I don't know."