Cause lands Navan thriller
Cause Of Causes got up on the line to deny Midnight Game in a thrilling finish to the Follow Navan On Facebook Hurdle at Navan.
Midnight Game was the 5-6 favourite to complete a hat-trick for Willie Mullins and Davy Russell, with the Gordon Elliott-trained Cause Of Causes 6-4 to follow up his lucrative victory in The Ladbroke at Ascot last month. Hisaabaat was the only other runner.
Midnight Game led for most of the two-mile journey and looked sure to win as he travelled powerfully into the straight with Russell motionless, but Davy Condon kept working on Cause Of Causes and was rewarded as his mount winged the last and galloped strongly to the line to get up by a short head.
Elliott said: "It was a bit of a cat and mouse race and a better pace would have suited. He's an honest horse. He'll go now for the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on February 9.
"We'll look for something in Cheltenham after that. I might run him in the Supreme (Novices' Hurdle).
"He's got loads of experience. I'm not saying he's good enough to beat the real good ones, but he'll come home strong in a race like that. He could be a good Flat handicapper during the summer."
Blissful Moment (15-8 favourite), fitted with blinkers for the first time, opened his account over obstacles at the sixth attempt with a determined effort in the 2013 Navan Membership Maiden Hurdle.
He was ridden along to keep tabs on the strong-travelling Mr Cosmopolitan heading up the home straight and responded well to Paul Carberry's urgings, getting on terms jumping the final flight and staying on best on the run-in to take top honours by three and three-quarter lengths.
Winning trainer Noel Meade said: "At no stage did I think he was going to win. In fairness though, he probably doesn't want the ground that heavy. He does want further. I thought the blinkers might help to carry him along a bit."
Elliott and Carberry combined for doubles as 3-1 favourite Barneys Honour cruised clear in the Meath Handicap Hurdle. The market leader travelled powerfully throughout and picked up well in the testing conditions to pass the post with four lengths in hand over veteran Chestnut Charlie.