Essex came with a telling late run to deny Star Wood an all-the-way success in the Kevin McManus Bookmaker Grimes Hurdle at Tipperary.
Michael O’Brien’s winner was sent off 5-4 favourite for the Grade Three event and Andrew Lynch was happy to settle in second as Star Wood went around 10 lengths clear in front.
Those tactics looked set to pay off for Tommy Treacy as Star Wood was still in front at the third last, while Lynch was beginning to push his mount along.
Star Wood began to get a little leg-weary turning into the straight, however, while Essex was just starting to get into top gear at the last.
Although Treacy’s mount gave her all, Essex proved much too smart and pulled five lengths clear at the line, with the disappointing Al Eile back in third.
VC Bet were suitably impressed and cut Essex to 12-1 from 20s for next month’s Guinness Galway Hurdle.