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Last comes first in Hennessy Gold Cup
12:41 AEST Mon Feb 10 2014

Last Instalment has staked his claim for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham with a winning comeback in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown.

The nine-year-old had been off since February 2012 when he came back last month and showed the benefit of that outing to cause a minor surprise in the three-mile (4800m) Grade One.

The 8-1 chance, trained by Philip Fenton, powered home in the hands of Brian O'Connell and was slashed to 8-1 for next month's Cheltenham feature.

Tidal Bay finished with a flourish to claim second.

"It was a bit of a concern coming here on just his second run back, taking on that sort of competition, but he was brilliant," trainer Philip Fenton said.

Although he has shortened dramatically for the Gold Cup, Fenton accepts the prospect of faster ground could be an issue at Cheltenham.

"The ground would be a concern in the Gold Cup as there's a big chance it would dry up," he said.

Owner Michael O'Leary said they would protect Last Instalment and not run him at Cheltenham if the ground was too firm.

On a top card at Leopardstown, owner Rich Ricci, trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh grabbed a Grade One double with Vautour and Ballycasey.

Ballycasey (2-1) proved an able deputy for Champagne Fever by outpointing Don Cossack in the Moriarty Novice Chase and was promoted to 5-1 favourite for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham.

Vautour (7-4) burst The Tullow Tank bubble with a convincing all-the-way win in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle to depose his rival as pre-post favourite for the Supreme Novices Hurdle.