I Am Maximus made a victorious return to Fairyhouse to secure Grade One glory in the Bar One Racing Drinmore Novice Chase.
The seven-year-old won the Irish Grand National at the track back in April, defying his novice status to claim a length success in the Easter highlight for trainer Willie Mullins.
Having his first start since then – and his last in novice company – I Am Maximus travelled well into the race for Jody McGarvey, having been happy to let 5/4 favourite Letsbeclearaboutit cut out much of the early running.
Found A Fifty was also to the fore and it looked between the three of them coming down to the final two obstacles, with Letsbeclearaboutit the first to crack.
A slow jump at the last hardly helped Found A Fifty’s cause and, dropping back to two-and-a-half miles – nine furlongs less than the Irish National distance – I Am Maximus (11/1) had more than enough stamina to assert again on the run-in and win by two-and-a-half lengths.
Coral make I Am Maximus the 16/1 joint favourite for next year’s Randox Grand National, while Betfair go 12/1 about his chance in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown over the Christmas period.
Mullins said: “That’s a nice bonus on his last day as a novice. He’s a total character, as you could see from his early days racing. Paul (Townend) gave him a great ride in the Irish National and Jody gets on well with him and gave him a super ride there.
“He looks a class horse now rather than a handicapper, so maybe we’ll have to make different plans for him now.
“We were hoping he’d have a chance over the trip and the fact that it was his last day as a novice to give him the opportunity. He’s clearly improved from last year and obviously shows a liking for Fairyhouse.
“He has a funny action when you look at him head on and I’d imagine softer ground is to his liking.
“I thought he was beaten turning for home and to produce what he did up the straight was very good.
“This year, we were maybe looking at going for the English National and whether we change and go for Grade One races now, I’m not sure. We’ll have to have a word with Frank (Berry, racing manager) and JP (McManus, owner) and see what they want to do.”