Colin Keane sent the runner-up for glory with more than two furlongs to race and, still four lengths clear approaching the furlong-pole, the grey looked an assured winner. But he began to tire inside the final furlong as the pack closed.
And I’ll Be Your Clown, under strong pressure, got up in the dying strides to triumph by a head with Shalaman a close third.
“It was a super ride by Chris — he’s riding out of his skin at the moment,” said Andy Oliver. “We’ve had our eye on this race for the last month, although I had mixed feelings when it was switched from Leopardstown to Navan. But everything worked out well.”
Hayes had initiated a double, bringing his seasonal tally to 29, when the Patrick Prendergast-trained Lady Allegra, unlucky on her debut at Fairyhouse last Sunday, made no mistake in the two-year-old median auction maiden.
Narrowly denied with Unsinkable, Ger Lyons and Colin Keane went on to complete a double with Intisari in the Lynn Lodge Stud Maiden and Vale De Sol in the Come Racing 5th September Handicap.
Meanwhile, Willie Mullins completed a double with Alelchi Inois and New Kid In Town in the early action in Cork.
A five-time winner over fences, Alelchi Inois was described as “a bit rusty over his hurdles” by his rider Paul Townend after beating 9/10 favourite Bayan by three-quarters of a length in the Family Day Out August 3rd Hurdle, with the winner’s stable-companion Indevan third.
“He’s a decent horse on that sort of ground,” stated Townend. “He’ll come on for this run. And I’d say he’ll be heading for Galway.”
The seven-year-old is a five-time winner over fences, including twice at Galway last summer, and will be aimed at the Galway Plate.
The Mullins double had been initiated when New Kid In Town, owned and ridden by Patrick, appreciated the step-up to three miles when landing the opening in the Follow Us On Twitter Maiden Hurdle.
The Mullins team was out of luck in the bumper when odds-on favourite Listen Dear, ridden by Patrick, was turned over by Ballinrobe winner Captain Barbarossa, trained by Aidan O’Brien for J PO McManus and ridden by the trainer’s daughter Sarah.
Townend completed a 27/1 double when partnering Edmond Kent’s recent Gowran winner Thanks For Tea to a smooth success in the Corkracecourse.ie Mares Handicap Hurdle.
Theos Well, trained by Mick Winters, overcame some traffic problems in the straight before outclassing his rivals in the Great Value Social Package Maiden Hurdle, beating Cliffside Park comfortably by almost four lengths.
A trip to Galway for the valuable amateur handicap or a return to Mallow for a conditions hurdle the following Monday is next on the agenda.
And Barry Geraghty registered his second win as retained rider for J P McManus when the well-backed favourite Just Call Me, trained by Andrew McNamara, proved best in the Mallow Print Handicap Hurdle.