First Lieutenant suffered a shock odds-on reverse to De Valira in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Chase at Cork.
Winner of the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, the Mouse Morris-trained First Lieutenant had made a winning debut over the bigger obstacles at Tipperary earlier this month, and was sent off at 4-6 to follow up.
Soon in close attendance as Stephanie Kate set out in front, Davy Russell’s mount made a noticeable blunder at halfway and had still not got the better of Charlie Swan’s mare when she came down three out.
That left First Lieutenant in front, but all the while Ruby Walsh had been stalking the principals on De Valira, who was third at Punchestown on Thursday.
With the favourite again far from fluent at the second-last, Walsh seized his chance and jumped the final fence with a narrow advantage.
First Lieutenant rallied on the run to the line, but the post came in time for the James Morrissey-trained winner (11-2), who held on by a nose.
Morrissey said: "The owner Donal Mac A'Bhaird is from Glanmire and it's great to have a winner at his local track.
“It’s a shame that Paul Townend, who normally rides him, couldn’t be on today but he had to go to Naas. Ruby felt he got there a bit too soon and to be honest I thought we were beaten.
“He could came back here in three weeks for another novice race, but that was his Gold Cup today and I’m delighted.”
Russell said of First Lieutenant: “The one in front falling left me in front a bit too long.”