Bilbo Bagins and Paddy Kennedy
©Healy Racing Photos
Bilbo Bagins defied top-weight in the opening Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Chase at Punchestown, but not before giving his connections and backers a late scare.
The 9/2 shot asserted from before the last under Paddy Kennedy and it looked a case of 'bar a fall.'
Adrian Murray's charge hit the fence and was slow - leaving the door open for 4/1 favourite, Simple Steps.
She had every chance on the run-in but couldn't get by and at the line Paddy Kennedy's mount triumphed by half a length.
Kennedy is enjoying his best season to date and needs just three more winners to loe his claim.
"That's brilliant and I'm delighted for the horse," said Murray in the aftermath.
"On this kind of ground, on a stiff track, he wants two miles or two-and-a-half on an easier track. Paddy said he might even step up to three miles.
"He's very lazy but he'll find a lot for you, he's just off the bridle all the time.
"He got a flyer at the second last and that got us there nearly too soon. It all worked out well at the finish.
"When he had something to compete with he just kicked on again.
"He was to go to Ayr during the week for a novice handicap but it was called off. We'll try and find a novice handicap over two or two-and-a-half. He won't step up in trip at this stage."
The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board Veterinary Officer reported to the Stewards that Aranhill Rascal trained by S.J.Mahon was found to have blood on his left nostril post race, probably as a result of his fall.
C.D. Timmons, rider of Time And Times trained by D.McNamara, reported to the Clerk of Scales that his mount jumped right throughout and pulled up.
(GC & EM)