Death Duty’s winning run continued as Augusta Kate crashed out when holding every chance at the last, in the Grade 1 Lawlor’s Hotel Novice Hurdle at Naas.
Six horses went to post for this 2 ½ mile contest and at flag fall, it was Blood Crazed Tiger and the grey Turcagua who went on and took the first hurdle.
Settling down, Blood Crazed Tiger, bidding for a five-timer, narrowly led from Turcagua, with Death Duty in third and then Bel Ami Sivola, followed by Augusta Kate and Stand Up And Fight.
The field took the fifth flight, the one in front of the stands, with Turcagua going on, as the pace dropped.
Turcagua continued ahead of Blood Crazed Tiger and Death Dury, who matched strides with Bel Ami Sivola, with Augusta Kate and Stand Up And Fight close up too.
Turning for home, Turcagua still held a slender lead, with Death Duty easing closer at the second last and Augusta Kate beginning her challenge to the stands side.
Death Duty inched into the lead approaching the last, with Augusta Kate holding ever chance, but as the leader jumped safely, the filly crashed to the ground.
That left Death Duty clear and Jack Kennedy just had to ride his mount out and he went right away from Turcagua, with Blood Crazed Tiger third.
There will be much debate over what the outcome might have been, with Augusta Kate running green, but travelling well with a 7 pound concession at the time of her fall. However, Death Duty found plenty from the last flight and put distance between himself and the remainder.
The Gordon Elliott trained 6 year old Death Duty, was winning for the fourth consecutive time.
He said: “To be honest, I thought they didn’t go fast enough. Our lad is just an out-and-out stayer.
“They were upsides when the mare fell, so it’s hard to say but the one thing you know about our horse is that he would have kept pulling out. Jack thought he had it covered.
“He has his job done again and that will be it now until Cheltenham.
“There is a long way to go between now and Cheltenham, but if the race was tomorrow, I’d be saying the Albert Bartlett, definitely.
“He’s a proper, big three-mile chaser. At this stage, of all the good horses I’ve had, none of them were ever as good as hurdlers, but that doesn’t mean they’ll do it as chasers.
“I’d say he’s a fair one.”
Augusta Kate’s trainer Willie Mullins reported the smart mare to be none the worse following her heavy fall.
He said: ” She trotted up fine. I’m sure she’ll be a little bit sore in the morning.
“She was running a good race and Ruby felt he had a little bit left, but there was still a lot of racing to do.
“The winner is a fair machine, so we’re just happy our mare was running a good race. Whether she’d have won or not is another day’s work.”
Asked whether Augusta Kate could run again before the Festival, Mullins said: “We’ll see how she comes out of the race and go from there.”