Fiveforthree books a return trip to Cheltenham; Tom Cooper's star Forpadydeplasterer misses out on the Cotswolds and former champion Paul Carberry incurs the wrath of punters after a shock defeat on handicap hotpot Martin Scruff.
That, in a nutshell, sums up happenings at Punchestown yesterday, when Fiveforthree made a successful comeback from injury to boost hopes of a potent Ladbrokes World Hurdle challenge at the scene of his 2008 Cheltenham victory in novice company.
It's back to the drawing board, though, for the Goat Syndicate's 2009 Irish Independent Arkle hero Forpadydeplasterer, whose handler Cooper has been obliged to scratch the gelding from the all-aged championship chases at the Festival.
A welcome winner at the Kildare venue courtesy of 20/1 shot Noel Browne as well as a double for his teenage son Bryan aboard O Fortuna and Avondhu Lady did little to assuage Cooper's disappointment that Forpadydeplasterer's immune system hasn't recovered since last month's return trip to Kempton, and the horse may not be back until Punchestown in early May.
While the Willie Mullins pair Fiveforthree and Call The Police were delivered perfectly by Paul Townend to claim the opening conditions hurdles, punters were dealt a blow when Carberry opted to play his hand very late aboard Gordon Elliott's 1/2 chance Martin Scruff in the Hen Party Handicap Hurdle and lost by a length to John Carr's Turnonthegas (16/1).
Elliott's English import started at cramped odds for the Jackpot finale as the gelding was carrying a 4lb mandatory penalty for his cheeky Thurles win the previous Thursday under Carberry compared to the handicapper's opinion that he merited a 19lb hike.
Barracked by a section of the small crowd on returning to the runner-up berth, the rider was interviewed by the stewards and recounted how the race unfolded before being severely cautioned for "an error of judgment".
His version of events, in essence, to them was that "he felt on the approach to the final hurdle that he had all his competitors covered and when the eventual winner jumped the last hurdle slowly he was satisfied to give his own mount a quick breather as he felt that the leader had nothing more to offer. He was surprised that the winner picked up quickly and galloped very strongly to the line."
Elliott said he "reluctantly" ran the horse for a second time in six days because of the handicapper's reassessment. He added that "the rider knows his charge well and that the gelding may have been feeling the effects of his most recent race", before expressing his satisfaction with the ride.