First Lieutenant got his head in front right on the line to deny Rock On Ruby in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Oscars Well jumped the last in front but he landed awkwardly and that mistake all but put paid to his chances.
The well backed 2/1 favourite, So Young was also slow at the last and that allowed Davy Russell to get the Gigginstown horse up for a well earned victory.
Russell said: “He’s a horse that’s matured an awful lot through the year and he has again. I knew with a quarter of the straight to go I was getting there, but it was the last stride. My horse was a fraction slow at the last, but he’s a very good horse.”
Winning owner Michael O’Leary said: “Mouse has done a wonderful job with the horse and Davy gave him a fantastic ride. Oscars Well was probably a bit unlucky, but it’s a great day for us. It’s a great joy when the Irish horses come over here and this is another one on the board. Mouse always thought this horse was the next War Of Attrition. I don’t think he’s that good but he’s going the right way anyway.”
Mouse Morris said: “They didn’t seem to go a great gallop and speed wouldn’t totally be his forte, but he stayed up there. He does have a lot of toe, but it’s more a high cruising speed he has than just producing it. It was a perfect ride from Davy. This was plan A, B, C and D, so regarding the future, we’ll see what happens. Chasing is going to be his game.
“I don’t know if he’ll run again this season. I was afraid it was going to turn into a sprint, because this horse does have a really high cruising speed.
“From day one I always thought he was a Cheltenham horse. He has a presence about him.”
“It gets harder (to have a winner here) as you get older, and you can’t do it without the horse, or the owner, who pays the bills.”