On a day ruined by miserable weather and despite swathes of the course being under several inches of water, the aptly-named Loch Ard splashed his way to an impressive victory under Ruby Walsh in the Louis Fitzgerald Hurdle at Punchestown yesterday.
His facile triumph was to prove the first leg of a stunning 456/1 four-timer for Willie Mullins, who took both of the surviving Grade Ones on the card, after the showpiece Gold Cup was one of two chases postponed until Saturday.
Marasonnien created a little bit of history by leading home a one-two-three for the champion trainer and Rich Ricci in the War Of Attrition Novices' Hurdle, the first time that both an owner and trainer combined to achieve that feat in an Irish Grade One.
However, it was the smart Loch Ard that posted the most exciting performance, cruising to the front on the run to the last for Walsh.
One hurdle had to be omitted entirely from proceedings due to a mini lake that had developed in front of it in the morning and when long-time leader Wreckin Rock crashed out at the last flight to leave Walsh canter home 33 lengths clear on the 6/4 favourite, exaggerated distances threatened to be the order of the day.
On reflection, though, the wide margin may simply have been the mark of a fairly serious prospect.
"He is a nice horse and loves those conditions," said Mullins.
Walsh was again on the market leader in the €75,000 novice hurdle, but Sous Les Cieux couldn't cope with the Paul Townend-ridden Marasonnien (12/1) from the turn in on his first try at three miles. Vesper Bell, which made much of the running, kept on for a three-length second in what was ultimately a soft Grade One.
A switch to fences may beckon for Ricci's Champagne Fever after he replicated his Cheltenham heroics to grind out an immensely brave front-running victory in the betchronicle.com Champion Bumper. Despite looking vulnerable to the English raider Melodic Rendezvous at more than one point late on, Patrick Mullins' mount refused to give in, and eventually justified 11/4 favouritism by seven and a half lengths.
After Flash Of Genius (11/4f) romped home in the Gigginstown Stud colours to complete a double for Patrick and a remarkable evening for Willie in the last bumper, the trainer quipped of the opening Martinstown Opportunity Series Final, the only race to elude him on the day: "I didn't even have an entry in that -- I must do better!"
The handicap had gone the way of the Ian McCarthy-ridden Shamiran (12/1) for Ballybrack-based Stephen Nolan.
With the weather taking its toll, attendance on the day came in at 11,517, down 33pc on 2011.