Brave Inca: former champion hurdler returned to winning ways on SundayPICTURE: PA
Brave Inca digs deep for Irish Champion glory
Report: Leopardstown, Sunday
Toshiba Irish Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m
BRAVE INCA produced an ultra game performance to lift his second Irish Champion Hurdle under Ruby Walsh. Colm Murphy's eleven-year-old is now rated a 20-1 chance with William Hill to regain the Champion Hurdle crown in March.
Walsh struck for home as the runners turned out of the back straight, however, he looked like a sitting duck as both Muirhead and favourite Sublimity loomed large.
Sublimity found nothing when push came to shove and it was left to Muirhead, ridden by Barry Geraghty to lay down a challenge. Try as he might, Geraghty could not force Muirhead passed, as Brave Inca kept pulling out a little bit more in front.
"He has had a lot of bridges to cross since injuring his leg, and even had a few setbacks coming here," said Murphy
"It is incredible to think what he has done and how he has put us on the map.
"He is unbelievable and is one in a million. He is as tough as nails and was pricking his ears going to the last and had plenty left in the tank.
"We'll see what happens but he is entered in the Champion Hurdle and the three-miler (World Hurdle). There is also Aintree and Punchestown to consider."
Walsh said: "He is such a tough horse and is a real credit to Colm.
"Colm got the tactics spot on and said we needed to ensure an end-to-end gallop.
"It turned into a slog and was more of a stamina contest than the stop-start pace we hadhere over Christmas.
"The ground hindered Sublimity and we knew that was where the advantage was."
This was a great result for punters who have been backing Brave Inca all week. Muirhead was given a quote of 33-1 for the Champion Hurdle with Victor Chandler who have pushed Sublimity out to 14-1 from 10-1.
Rob Hennessy trainer of Sublimity had the horse scoped at the racecourse after the race and the news was not good.
Hennessy said: "He didn't run like the horse he has been at home all week. He has scoped wrong and has an infection."