Conflated in the Cheltenham Gold Cup picture after dominant win at Leopardstown

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The Gordon Elliott-trained eight-year-old was a surprise winner of the Irish Gold Cup over the course and distance last season and went on to run well before falling two from home in Cheltenham's Ryanair Chase before pushing Clan Des Obeaux close in the Bowl at Aintree. Expected to improve from his seasonal reappearance in the Champion Chase at Down Royal in October, in the absence of the withdrawn A Plus Tard Conflated was 2-1 favourite and ultimately outclassed his rivals. Kemboy, winner of this race in 2018 and fourth, second and third in each of the past three years, adopted his customary pacesetting role under Paul Townend, but it was clear the soon to be 11-year-old was struggling to shake off the two years younger Conflated and Jack Kennedy allowed him to stride to the lead heading out onto the second circuit. In truth the market leader bossed the contest from there home and Kennedy could even afford to begin celebrating on the run-in as he passed the post with five lengths in hand. Kemboy ran another brave race to be placed once more in second, with the winner's stablemate Fury Road coming from further back to pick up the bronze medal. Paddy Power reacted by trimming Conflated's Gold Cup odds to 14-1 from 33-1, while Coral offer the same price from 40s. Elliott said: "It was unfortunate that A Plus Tard couldn't run. The race worked out well and Jack gave him a beautiful ride. "Paul steadied the pace down and Jack let him stride on. He said the faster this horse goes, the better he'll be. I thought Jack was wonderful. "He's not an easy horse and he's actually starting to settle now. He was very kinky and Jack said he wasn't doing a stroke the whole way up the straight. He jumped perfect all the way. "We don't gallop him a whole lot and he just does his routine work each day. We left him very short in Down Royal and Jack was thrilled and said he'd come on an awful lot from it. "I'd imagine he'll come back here for the Irish Gold Cup but we'll have to talk to Michael and Eddie (O'Leary) and make a plan. "There was a lot of talk last season about which race he would go for in Cheltenham but he'll definitely be going for the Gold Cup this year." Kennedy, like Elliott completing a treble on the card, said: "Brilliant. The first couple of days have been kind of tough, but we've certainly made up for it today anyway. "Paul slowed it up in front and this lad got a small bit lit up, so I let him on. He dropped it (bridle) again going down the back. He'd actually probably be better off a stronger gallop as well. "It was a good performance and I'm delighted with him. He's a brilliant jumper, even short he is able to get up. "He is a good horse and probably a small bit quirky, but I suppose the penny is after dropping with him and he's a lot more straightforward now. He was very straightforward today." Home By The Lee, meanwhile, proved his surprise victory at Navan last month was no fluke with a battling success in the Jack de Bromhead Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown. Joseph O'Brien's charge was a widely unconsidered 28-1 shot for the Grade Two Lismullen Hurdle in mid-November, but knuckled down to see off the strong-travelling Bob Olinger, with Ashdale Bob and dual Stayers' Hurdle hero Flooring Porter back in third and fourth. All four were again in action in this three-mile Grade One, with Bob Olinger the marginal favourite to provide Henry de Bromhead with victory in a race named in memory of his late son, just ahead of Flooring Porter at 2-1. The latter adopted his customary pacesetting role under Danny Mullins, while Bob Olinger was given a more patient ride under Rachael Blackmore. But it became clear leaving the back straight that both of the market principals were in trouble, with Flooring Porter picked up by both 7-1 shot Home By The Lee and Ashdale Bob, while Bob Olinger found little once push came to shove. Ashdale Bob looked to be travelling best of all on the approach to the final flight, but it was Home By The Lee who saw out the distance best under JJ Slevin to score by three lengths. Paddy Power cut the winner to 6-1 from 20-1 for the Stayers' Hurdle, a race in which he finished sixth last season. O'Brien said: "I was actually worried how well he was travelling through the race because he never does travel well. I thought he was going to waste too much energy travelling and jumping well but he's a really good stayer. "He keeps finding and even when he got to the front, he pricked his ears again. "I was surprised he beat Bob Olinger in Navan but he really was going well. He was discounted in the betting but we hoped he'd be placed and then come here. "He's always been a fairly good horse. He was a good novice chaser and then lost his confidence jumping fences and we came back hurdling. "He'll probably go straight to Cheltenham now for the Stayers'. He likes getting into a nice rhythm and wasn't beaten a million miles in it last year. He looks a better horse this year."

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