Gordon Elliott has enjoyed a dream start to the season and the strength of the stable becomes more evident with each passing weekend.
Before the start of the Grade One Bar One Racing Drinmore Novices’ Chase there was a plunge on his Free Expression (7-4), but it was stable-companion and marginal favourite No More Heroes (13-8) who proved a class apart in a hot renewal.
Bryan Cooper was content to sit just behind the pace aboard the Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding, who gave an exhibition of jumping.
Upsides before the turn for home, he pulled away between the last two and had the luxury of being eased close home to beat Monksland by two and a half lengths, with Free Expression in third.
“It’s been a lucky race for us,” said Elliott.
“Five years ago Jessies Dream was my first Grade One winner when winning this, and this is our third win in the race.
“No More Heroes is a good horse. He’s tough, he stays, he jumps, does everything. Over hurdles he spent a lot of time in the air, but it looks like chasing is his game.
“I’d say the further he goes the better he’ll be. I’d imagine he’ll run again at Christmas, and I wouldn’t rule out Kempton (Feltham Chase), we might bring him over with Don Cossack to keep him company.”
Looking ahead to Cheltenham, he added: “He’s more of an RSA horse (three miles) than a JLT horse (two and a half).”
Of third-placed Free Expression, Elliott added: “He ran a good race. Barry Geraghty said he wasn’t mad on the ground, and they didn’t go quick enough for him.”
Elliott also reported stable star Don Cossack to be in great form, and firmly on target for the King George on St Stephen’s Day.
The Co Meath trainer was also on the mark when rising star Jack Kennedy produced Bless The Wings with a perfectly timed run to take the three-mile-five Porterstown Handicap Chase.
Rashaan, who won the first juvenile hurdle of the season, at Roscommon in August, and followed up in similarly smooth style at Listowel a month later, completed his hat-trick with victory in the Grade Three Bar One Racing Juvenile Hurdle.
Trained by Colin Kidd and ridden by Mikey Fogarty, the 5-1 chance took a rails slot in midfield and remained there until angled out to make progress before the third-last.
The gelding travelled strongly and, even when the heavily backed Missy Tata went to the front early in the straight, Fogarty looked confident.
In front going to the last, he pulled 13 lengths clear of the odds-on shot.
“He was very good, he gave the filly 11lbs and ran away from her,” said Kidd.
“After Listowel, today was the plan and everything just went smoothly with him since.
“Mikey said he was cantering the whole way. Four out he pulled him out wide because he didn’t want to get caught in a pocket, and when he attacked the filly coming down to the last he said it was all over.
“There were enquiries (to buy him) but no offers on the table. From day one, Mr Treacy (part owner), who has been very good to me, said he had been trying to get a good horse for a long time and now he has one he doesn’t want to let him go. Fair play to him, and it’s paying off now.
“He’s a very cheap horse now. He went through the sales ring, I was in for €8,500, and the hammer went down.
“I brought him home and did nothing with him for three months. I started from scratch, didn’t care what he had or hadn’t done before, and, from day one, always thought he was exceptional.
“We have the leading juvenile hurdler on this side of the water, so far. Anything he has come up against he has demolished.”
In the Underwriting Exchange Handicap Hurdle, the James Grace-trained and Shane Shortall-ridden took a flyer at the last hurdle and did enough to hold off the late rush of Harvey Logan, by a head.