Hill has Crowe on a high

Groody Hill capped a red-letter day for owner JP McManus with a last-gasp victory in the Ladbrokes.com Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan.

Groody Hill capped a red-letter day for owner JP McManus with a last-gasp victory in the Ladbrokes.com Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan.

Ireland’s leading patron also struck with Down Under and Formidableopponent, as well as getting on the scoresheet at Wexford with Baby Whizz for a four-winner haul on the day.

But it was Groody Hill who earned the most plaudits with a thrilling success to complete a hat-trick after wins at Punchestown and Wexford.

The five-year-old had plenty to do at the last as Ad Idem took the measure of Cross Appeal, who made a bad mistake.

However, Alan Crowe conjured a great run out of Chris Roche’s charge to get up in the last strides, finishing to such effect that he won by half a length. Cross Appeal was three and a half lengths back in third with Some Target fourth.

Crowe, who has handed a one-day ban for his use of the whip, was winning back-to-back renewals of the Troytown having been successful twelve months ago on Jack The Bus.

He said: “I had a good run the whole way. I jumped the fourth-last and landed running, but turning in they got away a bit.

“I knew my lad would keep going so I kept at him. Thankfully he kept going.”

Frank Berry, racing manager to McManus, said: “That was great. At the last I thought he was going to be third but in fairness he kept at it and stayed on well. He loves that ground which is a big plus.

“From what I saw of him going round he jumped very well. It’s lovely to win a race like this. Alan deserves a lot of the credit.

“He has been tricky from the word go but Alan gave him a great ride. If he gets into the Paddy Power Chase (at Leopardstown on December 27) he will probably go there.”

Formidableopponent (11-8 favourite) staked his claim to be in McManus’ team for the Cheltenham Festival with a clear-cut three-and-a-quarter-length victory in the INH Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle.

Trainer Noel Meade said: “Paul (Carberry) said he didn’t like the ground much. He said he was struggling a bit down the back.

“It wasn’t until he pulled him out on the better ground in the straight that he picked up.

“He’s a nice horse. He has won a point-to-point. If the ground got very heavy we would have to dodge it a bit with him. We’ll talk to the boss (McManus) and see where he goes next.”

The four-year-old has been introduced at 50-1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle by Stan James.

The Francis Flood-trained Down Under (11-4 favourite) got the McManus machine rolling by taking the Dunderry Handicap Hurdle.

Mount Benbulben came with a late rattle to land the spoils in the Irish Form Book “Monksfield” Novice Hurdle.

Rebel Fitz held a handy lead and looked set for success in this Grade Two contest, but he had nothing left when Mount Benbulben (5-2) put in a strong challenge from the last.

Davy Condon brought Gordon Elliott’s charge with a powerful run to go on in the last 100 yards and score by a length and a quarter.

Elliott said: “He’s a nice horse and he’s very tough. He’s got a fair engine and going further will be no problem.

“We’ll look for something over Christmas for him and we’ll see how he comes out of this race. We wouldn’t go any shorter. He stays very well.”

Paddy Power left the winner unchanged at 20-1 for the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle and cut him to 14-1 from 20s for the Albert Bartlett, at the Cheltenham Festival.

Condon was, however, given a three-day ban by the stewards for excessive use of his whip.

Following two falls earlier in the day, Ruby Walsh gave up his ride on Nearest The Pin, third to the impressive Flemenstar in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase.

Flemenstar’s trainer Peter Casey said of the 5-4 favourite: “We’ll have to move him up now and we’ll look at the Grade One chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.

“I think he’s a good horse and I’ve always liked him. He has still a bit to learn with the jumping.”

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