Veteran novice chaser Vics Canvas broke his duck over fences in spectacular fashion by landing yesterday's Cork Grand National.
Trained by Dermot McLoughlin and ridden by Conor Maxwell, the 14/1 outsider revelled in the stamina test at the Mallow track, charging clear of 9/2 favourite Dushrembrandt in the Paddy Power-sponsored marathon over three and a half miles.
As A Decent Excuse took the field along down back, Vics Canvas could be seen travelling well and Maxwell bided his time before challenging the leader at the second last. A fluent leap here soon settled the issue and the rider only had to push out his mount to slam Dushrembrandt by ten lengths. Unoccupied finished third, with last year's winner Sword Fish back in fourth.
"I've been wanting to run him in a handicap for the last few weeks but have not been able to because of the ground," said McLoughlin of the gelding, which is owned by the Bodeen Bandits Partnership, whose members include At The Races TV presenter Gary O'Brien.
"He's had ulcer problems and he's coming up 12 (years old), so we've just had to use him up on soft ground. He might go to Navan for the Troytown Chase."
Earlier, Adrian Heskin steered Martello Tower to victory in the Grade Three staying novice hurdle. In the colours of his new retainer Barry Connell, Heskin drove the Mags Mullins-trained six-year-old home to a gutsy success as the 11/4 shot stayed to deny favourite Ask Vic by three quarters of a length.
Heskin, who suffered a crunching fall at Down Royal on Saturday, was in the wars again yesterday following his victory after he was unshipped from Safe Exit on the way to the start of the maiden hurdle. He was stood down for the rest of the meeting and taken to Cork University Hospital for X-rays on a possible lung issue. The jockey later said he was "sore" but reported the X-rays were "100 per cent fine".
Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins managed to secure a double, the highlight of which was the battling victory of Perfect Gentleman in the Grade Three EBF Novice Chase over two and a half miles.
The 10/3 second favourite looked in trouble as 13/8 market leader Sadlers Risk went for home up the straight, but Andrew Lynch's mount blundered at the second last and Walsh seized his opportunity to drive Perfect Gentleman to a three-length success.
The Walsh-Mullins brace was initiated by the victory of former smart flat performer Nichols Canyon, which had little difficulty of justifying odds of 1/4 in the opening maiden hurdles.
A winner at Listed level for John Gosden, Nichols Canyon came to the tack with a good reputation having been a big-money purchase by Andrea and Graham Wylie, and while he took a while to find top stride, the hot favourite easily held off Baily Cloud by a length.
Robert Tyner - whose Dushrembrandt had to settle for second in the feature - later sent out Pulled Mussel to deny the gambled-on Mike McCann (25/1 to 10/1) in the maiden hurdle, with Andrew McNamara doing the steering.
McNamara's brother, Robbie, was on the mark at Naas where he gave the Jessica Harrington-trained Moscow Magic a brilliant front-running ride to edge out favourite Kate Appleby Shows by a half length. However, the training honours at the Kildare track went to Henry de Bromhead who landed a 37/1 treble, initiated by the victory of 5/2 favourite Sizing John in the opening maiden hurdle under Johnny Burke.
The Waterford trainer then sent out Moscow Mannon to claim the first graded race of his chasing career in the Poplar Square Chase.
The 4/7 favourite was always travelling well in the hands of Davy Russell who eased him into the lead ahead of Ludo Et Emergo between the final two fences and the partnership readily held Felix Yonger by over four lengths.
Burke was back in the saddle as De Bromhead completed his hat-trick when Sizing Granite took the beginners chase.
The 6/1 chance made the most of several blunders from 1/2 favourite Lieutenant Colonel, which made mistakes down the back and had no extra on the run-in as Sizing Granite prevailed by a length.
Like Burke, Mark Walsh was also in double-winning form - both victories coming in the colours of JP McManus. The first was aboard Plinth (11/4), while the brace was sealed on Michael Hourigan's Give Me A Break (7/2).