Sams Profile successfully reverted to the smaller obstacles with a hard-fought victory in the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park.
The Mouse Morris-trained seven-year-old was narrowly beaten in a Grade One novice hurdle at the Punchestown Festival two years ago, but was not seen again until falling on his chasing bow at Thurles in November.
He ran with plenty of credit when third behind behind the exciting Monkfish at Fairyhouse nine days later – but feeling it was getting too late in the season to continue over fences, Morris decided to switch his charge back to hurdles for this Grade Two contest.
Given a patient ride by Phillip Enright, Sams Profile began to make significant inroads on the leaders from the home turn and held a narrow lead approaching the final flight.
A messy leap did him no favours, but Enright’s mount dug deep in a slow motion finish to hold off the rallying Diol Ker by half a length.
Paddy Power cut the winner to 16-1 from 66-1 for the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
Morris, who won the Galmoy Hurdle with his former Gold Cup hero War Of Attrition in 2010, said of Sams Profile: “He hasn’t been easy and fractured ribs at Thurles from the horrible fall he got and he ran with it afterwards.
“He bled when he got home after his Fairyhouse run and it was the vets who found it. He bruised his lungs and we gave him box rest.
“He is as tough as old boots and it was just one of those things in Thurles, but it got too late in the year (to continue novice chasing).
“He had a couple of good runs, but isn’t the luckiest horse in the world. The Stayers’ Hurdle will be pencilled in now.”
The trainer was keen to praise Enright, adding: “Being quite frank with you, I thought maybe he was a bit far back at the top of the hill, but you have to take it off to him – he is a cool dude.
“He was dead right and I was wrong.”