Last Updated: 15/03/19 6:02pm
Early Doors defied the burden of top weight to win the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, going two places better than when third in the race 12 months ago.
Ridden by Jonjo O’Neill junior, the 5/1 chance stayed on strongly after coming under pressure to score by a length and a quarter from 7/2 favourite Dallas Des Pictons.
Defi Bleu (14/1) was a further four lengths back in third with Champagne Court (14/1) fourth and Coolanly (20/1) fifth.
Joseph O’Brien, who lost Sir Erec to injury in the JCB Triumph Hurdle at the start of the final day of the meeting, said: “We’re devastated and the owners are. It’s one of those things and he seemed perfect the last couple of days. We had him checked following the stone bruise he suffered the other day and his X-rays were clean.
“Mark (Walsh, jockey) just said he jumped awkwardly and landed awkwardly and got injured.
“Early Doors has been running in Graded company and came back to handicaps today, and Jonjo has given him a great ride.
“He’s very patient and he’s very strong. The horses jump very well for him.
“It’s been a wonderful week for JP. It won’t feel that way with how today has gone but he’s had a great week.”
Early Doors was a fifth winner of the week for owner JP McManus, who tops the leading owner charts for the 2019 Festival with all five trained by different trainers.