Boston Bob completed a transition from nearly horse to three-mile leader in less than a month by claiming a second consecutive major Grade One in the Bibby Financial Services Ireland Punchestown Gold Cup.
Returned briefly to hurdling after his novice chasing campaign took a turn for the worse, the 5-2 favourite had offered a reminder of his capabilities when delivered late in Aintree’s Melling Chase and again proved too powerful over a longer distance by galloping three and a quarter lengths clear of the continually luckless First Lieutenant.
It was further compensation for Scottish owner Graham Wylie, who made the gentlemanly decision not to contest the decision of the Cheltenham stewards when On His Own was a controversial runner-up in the Gold Cup, as well as for jockey Ruby Walsh, who was suffering from the agony of a fractured arm at that very moment.
Walsh, now fully recovered, snubbed On His Own for Boston Bob, and Paul Townend took the reins on his Willie Mullins stablemate, who led to around half-way but faded with a whimper.
Lyreen Legend assumed that position, closely tracked by Long Run, who for some way looked as if he might rival the sort of magical comeback made by the veteran Sizing Europe on Tuesday, but still performed commendably to finish third after his fall in the Grand National.
First Lieutenant so often finds a couple too good at this level but first-time blinkers and the help of Barry Geraghty seemed to give him a boost and he was leading at the final fence. But Walsh had the fire in his belly, surviving an awkward landing over the last and able to drive Boston Bob through, even as his mount seemed at one brief stage to be heading so close to the rail he might have been bound for the stands.
Walsh said: “I have to thank Willie. I never thought I’d be siding with On His Own over Boston Bob, but I rode them both the other morning and I was definitely leaning On His Own’s way. On Monday morning I was talking to Willie and he fairly convinced me to ride this lad, so thanks to him.”
Beat That showed guts and class in equal measure to claim the Irish Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle. An 11-8 favourite following an impressive display on his first start over three miles at Aintree, the Nicky Henderson-trained six-year-old travelled powerfully in the hands of Barry Geraghty.
Liz Doyle looked relieved to see Le Vent D’Antan show his best in the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle. The Wexford trainer had struggled with her stable star after running him in last year’s Champion Bumper at Cheltenham and he had only won in one of four previous starts over hurdles.
The 3-1 joint-favourite was on song for Davy Russell, brushing off British raider Cheltenian and coming six lengths clear.
Orpheus Valley held off the Tony McCoy-ridden Competitive Edge by half a length to land the Guinness Handicap Chase.
Competitive Edge stayed on stoutly, but the 5-1 favourite had to make to with second spot behind the surprise 28-1 scorer.