The seven-year-old grey, in the colours of Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown House Stud, battled tenaciously on the run-in to outstay Philip Rothwell’s Saoirse Dun by a length and threequarters, with King Of The Refs third and favourite Wise Oscar last of only four finishers from a field of 16.
Winning trainer Nolan explained: “Everything went right form, particularly the ground. He’s a slow horse. But he jumps and handles those conditions really well. He’s a dour galloper.
“He usually takes his races well. And we’ll see how he is in a few days. He might sneak into the bottom of the Irish National, although it could come a bit soon for him.”
Earlier, Geraghty came off second best on another of the Gigginstown string, the Gordon Elliott-trained odds-on favourite Bonisland, in the opening Irish Stallion Farms Novice Hurdle.
The 4/5 shot was unable to get to grips with the Willie Mullins-trained course and distance winner Suntiep, which retained his unbeaten record by forging clear of the favourite in the last 100 yards to triumph by three and a half lengths.
In the absence of Mullins, winning rider Ruby Walsh said: “He’s a great jumper and stays forever. He’s not flashy but is very tough. And he’s unbeaten. He’ll make a lovely staying chaser.”
Having ridden Suntiep prominently in the opener, Ruby dropped odds-on favourite City Slcker out in last place in the PGA’s At Navan Golf Club Maiden Hurdle.
The JP McManus-owned gelding, very free and jumping right when odds-on for his last visit to Navan, crept into the race from the fourth last but found little when he came off the bridle and had to settle for third spot behind all-the-way winner Nearly Nama’d, a sixth winner in five days for Bryan Coper.
Nearly Nama’d, formerly with Harry Kelly, is now trained by Dessie Hughes, who commented: “I didn’t thin he’d beat the favourite. But he did it well.
“Tim (owner Tim O’Driscoll) bought him after his run at Naas and I only have him two or three months. He ran in point to points, goes in that ground and will definitely be going chasing next season.”
Cooper went within a nose of adding to his tally when he brought 13/8 favourite Easy Vic, trained by Tony Martin, from well off the pace before failing narrowly to John Joe Walsh’s Hillman in the Nellie Murray Navan Lady Golf Captain Handicap Chase.
The winner was ridden by Paddy Mangan (put up 2lb. overweight), deputising for Mark Enright, who was bruised and stood down for the day after Gallant Oscar’s fall at third last fence in the earlier handicap chase.
A smooth winner of his bumper on this track last month, the Dermot Weld-trained Some Tikket made a successful hurdling debut when making all under Robbie McNamara to win the Liam Buggy Navan Golf Captain Maiden Hurdle in impressive style by 11 lengths from, Fergiethelegend.
Weld stated: “That was straightforward. He won the way we expected him to win. He wants much better ground, but is just a very nice horse, capable of winning on the flat.
“We’ll see how much today’s race has taken out of him before deciding whether to go to Fairyhouse for the two-and-a-half mile ‘novice’ or wait for the Grade 1 at Punchestown.”
The well-backed Mount Colah, ridden by Noel McParlan, captured the Kilberry Handicap Hurdle for trainer Jerry Cosgrave, stretching into a clear lead from the start before being pressed by favourite Barneys Honour at the second last and going away again to score by seven-and-a-half lengths.
“They gave him enough room for Noel to get him switched off,” said Cosgrave. “He’s a real trier ands stays going. Hopefully there’s more to come. Chasing will be his game.”
Robert Tyner’s Kandinska was sent off 4/6 favourite for the bumper. But, for the fifth time, he had to settle for the runner-up berth, being collared and beaten a length- and-a-quarter by the Mikey Fogarty-ridden Makethedifference.
The winner, a Shantou gelding which began his career in a listed bumper at Cheltenham back in November, is trained by Eddie Hales, who commented, “I’ve always rated him a very nice horse. And I probably shouldn’t have brought him to Cheltenham. I’m not sure if he’ll run in another bumper, but he’s a nice horse for the future.”
Winning rider Mikey Fogarty was suspended for two race-days for failing to give his mount time to respond to his use of the whip.