Always close to the pace, Native Scout was sent clear by Barry Geraghty after the third last fence and stayed on to beat Rathgar Beau, which recovered from a bad blunder (when travelling well) at the fourth last, in good style.
Donie Hassett, who trains the gelding for Noel Glynn, now intends running Native Scout in the two-mile Paddy and Helena Cox Memorial Newlands Chase at Naas on February 22, in which he’ll clash with yesterday’s Thurles winner Native Upmanship among others.
Both Hassett and Glynn expressed the hope that the eight-year-old might take his chance in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham, if the ground is soft or heavy, which seems unlikely.
Barry Geraghty endured a very different fate in the earlier Byrne Group Plc Novice Hurdle (Grade 2) in which his mount, odds-on favourite Govamix crashed at the fourth last hurdle.
Victory here went to Kahuna, trained by ‘Dusty’ Sheehy (who was in Thurles to saddle another winner Paddy’s Girl) and dashingly ridden by Shay Barry.
Kahuna made every yard of the running and shook off the attentions of Euro Leader at the second last flight.
Sheehy said: “I’ve always thought a lot of this horse and there has been a good reason for all of his bad runs.
“He’ll be entered for both novice hurdles at Cheltenham, but no decision will be made until closer to the time.”
Coq Hardi Diamond, winner of the ‘Paddy Power’ at Leopardstown thirteen months ago, proved best in the gruelling National Trial Chase, getting the better of gallant top-weight Rule Supreme after a protracted struggle.
Ridden by Garry Hutchinson, the Noel Meade-trained gelding forged clear of his rival on the run-in, taking full advantage of the 27lb. he was receiving from the runner-up.
Meade, who had earlier initiated a double with the Paul Carberry-ridden odds-on favourite Fighter Pilot in the opening maiden hurdle, nominated the Midlands National at Uttoxeter as a likely target for the ten-year-old while ground conditions are likely to determine whether he’ll run in the Powers Gold Label Irish Grand National.
Shivermetimber, which ended a sequence of placed efforts when scoring at Leopardstown last week, followed-up for trainer Francis Flood in the three-mile Event Power Handicap Hurdle.
The Al O’Connell-trained novice Tristernagh made a successful transition into handicap company when landing the Eadestown GAA Club Handicap Chase under a confident Tommy Treacy.
Kevin O’Brien introduced a promising debutant Ridgewood Ploy to win a slowly-run bumper under Brian Hamilton.
Exeter have called a 7.30 inspection this morning to assess prospects for the afternoon’s racing.
The going is described as soft, heavy in places and more rain is forecast at the track.
“We have had an inch and a half of rain in the last couple of days and are expecting up to a further inch overnight into tomorrow morning,” said clerk of the course, Barry Johnson yesterday.