Good Land got punters at the Dublin Racing Festival off to a flying start when justifying favouritism in the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors “50,000 Cheltenham Bonus For Stable Staff” Novice Hurdle.
Barry Connell’s seven-year-old suffered a mishap on his hurdling debut when unseating Michael O’Sullivan at the first obstacle but the pair soon made amends at the big Leopardstown Christmas meeting.
Connell and O’Sullivan had broken their Grade One ducks with Marine Nationale in the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse and with that monkey off their backs headed into the two-mile-six-furlong contest full of confidence.
Sent off the 3-1 favourite on his return to the Dublin track, the only doubt his backers will have had was if Good Land had done too much in the early stages of the race, as it was clear the pace-setting Weveallbeencaught – a rare raider from Britain at this fixture – was not going fast enough for him.
Sent to the front just before the turn for home, he had Sandor Clegane to see off and when he cried enough Absolute Notions began to close, but there was a length and a half between them at the line.
O’Sullivan, unable to claim his 5lb as the race was a Grade One, punched the air in delight and Betfair cut him to 5-1 from 10s for the Ballymore at Cheltenham.