Plinth made to work hard
Plinth came out on top in a dramatic finish to the Punchestown Annual Membership From 110 Euro Hurdle after the race was badly affected by the morning withdrawal of likely hot favourite Clondaw Court.
Aidan O'Brien's contender was sent off the 9-10 favourite and while he was on top when outsider Mireya fell at the last, he was having to work very hard under Mark Walsh and the result was by no means certain at that stage.
Jim Dreaper's useful staying chaser Goonyella, who attempted to make all before beating a retreat, then made up plenty of late ground to get to within half a length, though he was never catching the winner.
Walsh said: "He was stopping coming up the run-in. He might have been a fortunate winner, I thought the mare could have beaten me. I got a run on her into the straight, but I could feel her coming to me on the run to the last.
"We didn't go too quick and I was probably in front too soon, but I wanted to use his pace. Johnny (Burke, on Goonyella) was coming back at me but my lad wasn't doing much in front on his own. He wouldn't go on winter ground and that might be it to the spring now."
Kevin Prendergast's Crafty Codger (16-1), a winner on the level at Dundalk, made a successful start to his jumping career in the Ballymore GAA Christmas Fair & Family Fun Day 3-Y-O Hurdle.
Verawal put up a decent effort from the front, while fellow Willie Mullins-trained and Supreme Horse Racing Club-owned runner Tarabiyn also had every chance at the final flight, but Crafty Codger dug deep for Adrian Heskin.
He was ultimately well on top at the line as he passed the post a length and three-quarters to the good, with Tarabiyn, the 11-4 favourite, narrowly beating his stable companion to the runner-up spot.
Jeremy Harley was representing the winning trainer and said: "The boss is delighted. He's not a big horse, but he's a great jumper.
"He's probably one of the highest rated of these on the Flat. He has schooled very well and Adrian has been up to jump him a few times. He seems to like that soft ground."
Shabra's Bertolini was a poignant winner as he provided trainer Anthony McCann with his first success in the Follow Punchestown On Facebook & Twitter Novice Handicap Hurdle.
McCann has taken over the Rita Shah-owned horses following the recent death of her friend and business partner Oliver Brady.
Sent off at 14-1, 7lb claimer Jonathan Moore hit the front on the run-in and guided him to a one and three-quarter length success over Hurricane Sky.
McCann said "It's great that he was Oliver's last winner and my first. It's good for Rita, especially given the support she gives the yard, and it's down to the whole team, not just me, including the young lad who led him up. We have 23 horses but plenty of room for more!"