Noel Meade’s Apache Stronghold took apart a field of previous winners in the Grade Two “Monksfield” Novice Hurdle at Navan.
The 9-2 chance, who is held in high regard by his trainer, was third to The Liquidator in the Champion Bumper at Punchestown in April and was narrowly off the mark over hurdles back at that same course last month.
This was a significant step up in class, but Paul Carberry was the epitome of confidence as he cruised into the lead, rather bunny-hopping the last but proving much too good for 2-1 favourite Azorian.
Meade said: ``I thought it was a very strong race beforehand and to win like that is a real bonus.
“Paul said he was cantering all the way and he jumped well apart from the last.
“He didn’t jump that well the last time in Punchestown – he was a bit lairy when he hit the front.
“He’s something to look forward to and the obvious race is to come back here for the Grade 1 Navan Novice Hurdle (December 15).
“At least we have one to take on Willie (Mullins) with now.
“Trip wise, he doesn’t want any shorter and he’s a chaser really.”