White stars at Listowel
White Star Line made the most of sneaking into the Guinness Kerry National as a reserve to land the big prize at Listowel for Dessie Hughes and Andrew Lynch.
Having needed three to drop out in order to get a run, the nine-year-old was spotted travelling ominously well going down the back straight for the second time.
Once he hit the front all that could stop him were the final two fences and after negotiating those with the minimum of fuss, the 16-1 chance was able to coast home in his own time to beat Galway Plate winner Carlingford Lough and Tony McCoy by five lengths.
Muirhead was third and Questions Answered was again placed, this time in fourth. The JP McManus-owned Wise Oscar, another reserve, was gambled into favouritism but never featured.
Lynch, whose original mount Go All The Way was one of the non-runners, said: "Go All The Way didn't run because of the ground and I was lucky enough to get the ride on White Star Line so everything panned out well.
"I was told to drop him in and take my time and his jumping just got me into the race. Once I kicked him on turning in, he picked up well and he was always going to win. I never had any worries, I always knew his jumping was going to get me into the race, especially from halfway down the back where a couple of good jumps got me into contention.
"When you're around here, you need to travel and jump and he did both. Dessie will be a happy man at home - I was talking to him before the race and hopefully now that (win) will perk him up a bit."
Winning owner Patsy Byrne, a local of Kerry, said: "I'm delighted, absolutely shocked. We didn't think he would go on the ground. Andrew did a great job on him and Dessie, well done to you at home. I'm only from six miles out the road from here so it's very special. This is my biggest winner to date over jumps."
Hughes is recovering from a recent illness, and his daughter Sandra said: "He is coming along well and the operation went very well. He's been out on the gallops every morning recently and should be back racing in a few weeks. I was on the phone to him and he was delighted.
"We thought that if the ground wasn't as bad as they were saying that he would run a hell of a race. Thankfully things were kind for us. He had been unlucky until this and had been knocking on the door. He jumped great today and has lots of class. I'm not sure of the plan, but he is ground dependent. Hopefully he might travel back to Cheltenham."