Dreal Deal continued his remarkable winning sequence as he sprang a shock on his first attempt at Grade Two level with victory in the Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle.
Ronan McNally’s six-year-old drifted in the market and was sent off an unconsidered 22-1 shot at Punchestown to post his sixth successive victory, over hurdles and on the Flat.
But after being held up last early on in the two-mile contest, he surged from well off the pace to lead just after the final flight and prevail by a decisive three lengths from the Willie Mullins-trained Ganapathi, under Denis O’Regan.
Gordon Elliott’s 11-4 favourite Magic Tricks came under pressure leaving the back straight and was eventually last of six finishers.
Dreal Deal’s progress through the ranks has been astounding this season.
The former maiden point-to-pointer began it as an apparently exposed performer, without a victory in 11 attempts under both codes, yet is since unbeaten – having broken his duck over hurdles from a handicap rating of 84 at Navan in September and won here at level weights from a field full of the big yards’ most promising novices.
McNally now has his sights on Cheltenham and the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
He said: “He won’t be going to the Dublin Racing Festival in Leopardstown and will probably go to Cheltenham now. I think he’s entitled to go there now.
“If we have to go for a lesser race in between, we will do that, and if not it will be straight to Cheltenham.
“He will probably go for the Supreme, but he will be entered in the Ballymore as well. That was the dream, but he had to go and do that today.
“He’s done it now – so we can dream!”
O’Regan added: “He can travel real well, but it just takes him a while to get going – and thankfully he got going in the straight. He’d a good jump at the last and won all right in the end.
“He’s definitely entitled to step up into higher company again, and it’s something to look forward to. Well done to Ronan and the team.”