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Free makes opposition pay

Free Expression took the step up to Grade Two company in his stride as he maintained his unbeaten record in the 'Monksfield' Novice Hurdle at Navan.

Winner of a point-to-point and a bumper, the J P McManus-owned gelding was sent off the 11-10 favourite on the strength of his victory in a 25-runner maiden hurdle at Naas just 15 days earlier.

Mark Walsh brought the Gordon Elliott-trained five-year-old through to lead after Martello Tower fell two out when holding a narrow advantage, and though r ank outsider Shantou Flyer looked a danger on the run-in, Free Expression kept on well to score by a length and a quarter.

Elliott, who also won the Troytown Chase with Balbriggan, said: "He was very green and is still a big baby. He ran all over the place, but he's one for the future.

"He definitely wants two-mile-four plus and a faster gallop. He's going to be a big chaser for next year."

Free Expression is 16-1 for the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham with Paddy Power and Boylesports.

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