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Alderwood off the mark

Smart hurdler Alderwood made it third time lucky over fences in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase at Navan.

The winner of last season's County Hurdle at Cheltenham before claiming major novice prizes at the Fairyhouse and Punchestown Festivals, Alderwood slipped up on his fencing bow at Navan before finishing third at Fairyhouse.

Sent off the 8-11 favourite this time, Tom Mullins' stable star fenced fluently at the few obstacles that could be seen in the gathering fog and was driven past Prima Vista after the final fence by a length and a half.

Mullins said: "I'm delighted that he's won again after last season. Mark (Walsh) said the ground was more testing than he wanted.

"It turned into a bit of a slog in the end, but I'm happy nonetheless. We'll try to keep him away from that ground and he may run in a handicap before Cheltenham.

"That was not an Arkle performance and I'd be thinking in terms of a handicap for him at Cheltenham."

The final race on the card, the Trim (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race, was also staged in fog and when the runners emerged in the closing stages the leader was the Charlie Swan-trained 16-1 shot Agent James, making his racecourse debut as a six-year-old.

Willie Mullins' 6-4 favourite Wicklow Gold made no impression on the run-in and the winning distance was four and three-quarter lengths.

Agent James was ridden by his owner, John Reddington, who put up 1lb overweight at 11st 8lb and said: "That's my first ride and first winner and it's something I always wanted to do."

Swan added: "John's a building contractor in London and he's 40. This has always been a nice horse. He's just been a backward sort and it took a while to get him out. He's from a good old family of ours."


From Belfast Telegraph