Slade Steel confirmed the promise of his maiden hurdle win at Naas last month when really digging deep on the run-in to land the Grade 2 Tote Navan Novice Hurdle at odds of 2/1. Stellar Story set the pace in this 2m4f event but the 11/8 favourite was headed by stablemate Better Days Ahead at the penultimate flight.
Slade Steel made headway to hold a slight advantage at the final flight where Lecky Watson also made progress to challenge.
The Henry de Bromhead-trained gelding showed a great attitude on the run-in and found plenty under pressure for Rachael Blackmore to beat Lecky Watson by half-a-length.
Stellar Story finished four and a half lengths back in third.
De Bromhead said, "“I'm delighted with that, it was tough work.
“We'd always hoped he'd be a better horse on nicer ground, he'd definitely have a preference for it, so it's great to see him get through that and get the job done. Rachael was happy and said he idled a little bit in front. He's progressing which is lovely.
“I don't think he needs to go up to an extreme distance, he's got plenty of gears and he won a bumper well.”
When asked if the Grade 1 at Naas in January could be on the agenda he added: “My gut feeling is that it's a little bit soon after today, it would be another slog there as well.
“There is the Dublin Racing Festival, although you might have to drop back or go up further there.
“We'll see, we'll enjoy today as that was a good race to win today. We'll discuss it and see what everyone would like to do.”
Paddy Power and Betfair cut the winner into 10/1 (from 25/1) for the Ballymore Novice Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and also 20/1 (from 33/1) for the Supreme Novices Hurdle.