Davy Condon, completing a personal double following the earlier success of Dermot Weld’s Prince Erik, allowed the blinkered eleven-year-old bowl along in front from flagfall, with eventual runner-up Lurgan his nearest pursuer all the way.
Stretching clear between the last two fences, 33/1 shot Benefit Night stayed on strongly to triumph by eleven lengths, recording his third win on the track and his first since landing a Grade 2 novice event at Naas in February 2007.
“We were a while waiting for that,” said winning trainer O’Sullivan. “But he loves it around here and it’s the first time he’s had a light weight in a long time.
“He has to go left-handed, that’s why his best form is here and in Navan. The run in the cross-country race at Punchestown sweetened him up and everything was right for him today, the track the ground and the weight.
“We’ll probably have a crack at the Midlands National (at left-handed Uttoxeter) now.”
Odds-on favourite Cottelsbooley proved a huge disappointment in the www.naasracecourse.com Novice Hurdle, the Paul Townend-ridden 4/7 shot dropping away quickly when headed after the fourth before being pulled up, when trailing, after the third last. The 4/7 shot was subsequently found to be “clinically abnormal” by the Turf Club vet’, reportedly suffering from Denman-like heart fibulations.
Victory went to the Noel Meade-trained Dilshaan’s Prize, having his first run since landing his maiden at Listowel back in September. Paul Carberry sent the Dilshaan gelding to the front before the second last and he stayed on well to keep Mackeys Forge at bay by a length and a half.
“That was great, just what we needed,” declared a delighted Meade, “He’s a fair, useful horse, but has been difficult to train. He had a crack in a hind-leg after he won in Listowel and had to have a break. I think he’s pretty adaptable ground-wise, although he wouldn’t want it too quick.”
Dermot Weld expressed the belief that Prince Erik is “too high” in a couple of handicaps at Cheltenham and unlikely to travel after the tough grey held the challenge of favourite Montan by a neck in the opening Naas Directors Plate Novice Chase.
First leg of a double for Davy Condon, Prince Erik, in the colours of Dr. Ronan Lambe, stayed on stoutly in the closing stages as the leading duo pulled twelve lengths clear of the remainder, prompting Weld to comment: “He’s a very fit horse and did it well.”
Weld added: “He’s been pretty consistent over fences and appreciated stepping-up in trip. He’s in the novice handicap and the Kim Muir at Cheltenham, but has too much weight and will probably stay at home. He likes things to go his way and battled away today — that’s what he is.”
Trainer Dessie Hughes acknowledged that Shirley Casper’s win in the Billy Brophy Memorial Beginners Chase was “overdue”, having seen the ten-year-old mare make all under Paddy Flood to beat Like Your Style and Kilflora in convincing style and open her account over fences at the sixth attempt “She’s a good ground mare and I knew she’d improve a lot once the ground dried up,” said Hughes.