Curragh trainer Dessie Hughes had an up and down afternoon at Naas yesterday when Frisco Depot battled bravely to open his jumping account before French-bred stable companions Rivage d'Or and Raz de Maree failed in turn to justify favouritism.
A close third to The Shepherd King on his seasonal debut at owner Gerry Burke's local Galway track, Frisco Depot recovered from a minor mistake at the final flight to justify good market support in a competitive Kingsfurze Maiden Hurdle.
Edward O'Grady's well-touted Shot From The Hip -- which was surprisingly easy to back on-course -- and Frisco Depot relentlessly closed on the front-running Cottrelsbooley in the last mile with the trio having the business end very much to themselves.
“Our fellow only missed the one hurdle when they were tight at the last, but battled on well for Paddy Flood. The trip and soft ground were a help and Frisco Depot should be a nice horse for one of those novice hurdles over two and a half miles,” Hughes said.
During what proved quite a costly blank session for favourite backers, the nearest a market leader came to winning was when Davy Russell sent the odds-on Rivage d'Or smoothly to the front between the final two obstacles.
However, Shot From The Hip's pilot Andrew McNamara was making significant progress on the outer with Staying Article at that stage and the often-placed hotpot was reeled in close home.
“This horse handled the ground better than Shot From The Hip and what impressed me was how he quickened up so well on it. He's in the Royal Bond Hurdle and will probably have one more run before we put him away for a spring campaign,” O'Grady said.
Noel Meade's Original Option ran much too freely to last home when odds-on also for the three-mile maiden hurdle that went instead to David O'Brien's Ballinahow Lady (14/1).