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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Marito comes out best in thrillerHeadlines
Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh

Marito landed the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Chase at Naas for Willie Mullins after a thrilling battle with Mount Benbulben.

There was drama at the start when Jim Culloty's Beeverstown, a winner last time out, shied as the tape went up and unshipped Robbie McNamara.

Ruby Walsh was content to follow Ballyadam Brook in the early stages on Marito (4-6 favourite) before taking up the running going down the back straight, and the jockey had to pull out the stops to get home by a head as Mount Benbulben put in a stirring finish.

It was a step back in the right direction for Mount Benbulben, who has had jumping issues, and Jenari ran a nice race in third also. Flemenstar and War Of Attrition have won the race in recent years.

Mullins said: "He put in a good round of jumping, bar four out, where he showed he was able to fiddle one.

"He's in the (Irish) Arkle (January 27) - I don't know if that's too soon for him, but we'll have a look at it. He could go two and a half miles - I think he'll stay no problem. It could be the Arkle next or the Moriarty."

Mullins and Walsh suffered a reverse in the Annual Membership At Naas Maiden Hurdle as the odds-on Upazo was run out of it close home by the Jarlath Fahey-trained Jennies Jewel (6-1), who was given a lovely waiting ride by Ian McCarthy and pounced after the last flight to win by two lengths.

Fahey said: "I'm delighted. She was caught out by the very deep ground at Limerick - she travelled very well, but just stopped. We knew if she was back to her Punchestown run she'd have a chance. She could go for the mares' Listed race at Fairyhouse at the end of the month."

Beneficial Spirit (10-1) provided trainer Philip Rothwell and jockey Brian O'Connell with a welcome winner in the Tipper Road Handicap Chase, staying on powerfully to beat Quiet Thought by three lengths after plenty were in with a chance at the second-last fence.

Rothwell said: "I'm delighted. We'll mix it between hurdles and fences with him now. He's been a difficult horse as he's had plenty of injuries. He's won a bumper and a couple of hurdles and now twice over fences - hopefully he's not finished either."

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