Gordon Elliott’s Tombstone bounces back to score at Navan
Willie Mullins’s Polidam holds off stablemate Acapella Bourgeois to take Foxrock handicap
Tombstone and Jack Kennedy were victorious at Navan. Photograph: Jonathan Porter/Inpho
Tombstone notched up a first Graded success over fences as he landed the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Klairon Davis Novice Chase at Navan.
The Gordon Elliott-trained seven-year-old won a Down Royal beginners’ chase in fine style last month but fell just short when upped to Grade Two level at Punchestown.
However, down to Grade Three company, the even money chance made no mistake this time as he raced prominently for Jack Kennedy before finding plenty for pressure to see off 10-11 favourite Jett by three and three-quarter lengths.
Inis Meain kept on a one pace to be beaten three and a half lengths in third.
Kennedy said: “He was hanging and looking around a bit. Maybe it was being in front, but he jumped away grand and he won it anyway, so he can’t have done too much wrong.
“Paul’s (Townend) lad (Jett) stays so he was trying to push on a bit. My lad is not slow and he stays going as well. He’s a grand horse.
“It would have been nice if he had just gone around and stayed straight, but I’d say it was just a bit of idling in front.”
Elliott later doubled up as Lisa O’Neill steered 4-5 favourite Defi Blue to victory in the REA T&J Gavigan Estate Agents Flat Race.
Townend may have been out of luck on Jett, but Invitation Only (2-1) ensured he made it back to the winner’s enclosure after the Mervyn Gray Construction Beginners Chase.
Highly rated after winning a point to point back in 2015, Invitation Only went on to score in bumper and hurdles company but slightly lost his way towards the end of the last campaign and fell on his chasing bow last month.
However, he bounded back in style for Willie Mullins as he made all for a four-and-a-quarter-length success over odds-on favourite Any Second Now.
Townend said, “There was no one anxious to go on so I said I’d let him pop away. He jumped spectacular, I thought, down the straight from the fourth last home.
“He had a good look early on and learned from his mistake the last day. That’s what you like to see with novices.
“They can all fall. His schooling had been good and it probably just opened his eyes for him.
“We got racing good and early and were quickening the whole way down the straight. I was very impressed with him. I didn’t think we hung around and I quickened up smarter than I thought we would in that ground. It rode a nice race.
“I don’t think three miles would be a problem to him but on that ground two-and-a-half is far enough.”
Mullins also struck gold in the Foxrock Handicap Chase as Polidam (10-1) and Danny Mullins led home a one-two for the yard, beating Townend into second on 4-7 favourite Acapella Bourgeois.
“We might just have had nice handicap mark with him. He was unexposed but he has Grade One form in France and by the end of the season we might be thinking that wasn’t a bad performance,” said Mullins.
Owner JP McManus and jockey Mark Walsh were in double form with Speak Easy (10-1) taking the opening Kells Maiden Hurdle before A Hardy Nailer (7-1) followed up in the Dunmoe Mares Maiden Hurdle.
Jockey John Fitzpatrick was banned for a total of 15 days, trainer Pat Coffey fined €2,000 euros and The Monks Kitchen suspended from running for 42 days after she was beaten 32 lengths when ninth behind Speak Easy.
The stewards found the filly had not been ridden to achieve the best possible placing, with Fitzpatrick banned for 10 days for the initial offence with a further five days added as officials found “he had supplied misleading or false information at the inquiry”.