Deep Cave, purple and yellow, finishes best of all© Photo Healy Racing
Deep Cave came home strongly to grab Lot Of Joy close home in the opening Savills Maiden Hurdle on day three of the Christmas Festival at Leopardstown.
Favourite backers would have been on good terms with themselves as Lot Of Joy made stealthy headway to stalk Firm Footings into the home straight.
He passed that rival approaching the final flight as Deep Cave stayed on into third behind the pair.
Former point-to-point winner Deep Cave kept coming though and was ridden in the final furlong by Rachael Blackmore for extra effort.
He put in his best work in the closing stages of this two and a half miler to collar Lot Of Joy with the post looming.
The 11/4 shot beat the 6/5 favourite by half a length with Firm Footings two lengths away in third at 13/2.
Henry de Bromhead said: “He’s a nice horse and we always liked him. I thought he was going to win in Punchestown and then he just got outbattled.
“Davy (Russell) felt he went a bit soon the last day, so we said we’d take our time. I’m delighted for the owners who are new to the game.
“We’ll look to the spring and see what is there.”
On A Plus Tard who has been ruled out of the featured Saviils Chase today on veterinary advice, he said: “Of course it’s disappointing but the most important thing is we have him right. We weren’t happy with him as his joint was puffed.
“He’s moving perfectly sound on it and the vets are just going to dig deeper. It wasn’t meant to be today. It’s frustrating but that’s the joys of training horses.”
Paddy Power halved Deep Cave from 40/1 to 20/1 for the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle and kept him unchanged at 40/1 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
Additional reporting by Alan Magee