Commander Of Fleet rose to the line in a thrilling, stormy finish to the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle under a well-judged run from 5-pound claimant Shane Fitzgerald.
The Gordon Elliott-trained winner, sent off at 50-1, was one of the few guaranteed to enjoy the proving ground and the big field, having won a 23-runner handicap at Navan in early December.
Ashdale Bob, trained by Jessica Harrington, put reasonable fractions ahead for the conditions and still went well ahead turning for home, jumping the last three lengths ahead of their 22 rivals.
However, the stamina sapping floor proved his undoing. Jack Foley’s mount fatigued soon after, as Fastorslow and the fleet commander went after the seven-year-old, who quickly passed out, eventually finishing third, five and a half lengths away behind the first two in the two mile five- long contest.
Darragh O’Keefe’s mount seemed to have gotten the better of the scrap to the line and in a titanic battle he briefly took the lead in front, only for the fleet commander to lower his head when it mattered to score by a short head.
Camprond who was still keeping pace, couldn’t find much from the penultimate and finished fourth.
The win was Elliott’s first at the Festival after he missed last year’s meeting due to the suspension he received when an image emerged on social media of him sitting on a galloping dead horse.