Auvergnat narrowly outpointed stablemate Josies Orders to provide Enda Bolger with a 14th success in the La Touche Cup at Punchestown.
The popular trainer saddled the Sean Connery-owned Risk Of Thunder to claim the prestigious cross-country chase on seven occasions and has since struck gold with the likes of Garde Champetre, L’Ami, Spot Thedifference and Quantitativeeasing.
He sent four horses into battle this year and it turned into a straight fight between the top two in the betting.
There was little to choose between the JP McManus-owned pair as the post loomed and they flashed by almost as one.
The judge soon confirmed that at the end of almost four and a quarter miles, 11-4 chance Auvergnat and
Donal McInerney had beaten Nina Carberry-ridden 5-2 favourite Josies Orders by a neck.
Ballyboker Bridge was best of the rest in third.
Bolger said: “It was close and hard luck on Nina, but both horses ran their hearts out. Auvergnat was our fancy because he’d run at Cheltenham and he’s only eight and an up-and-coming horse. I must say he got a great ride from Donie as well.
“It’s great for the race that it was a tight finish and exciting.
“My Hometown (long-time leader before falling) is my hunter and may be back on Saturday. He was enjoying it in front and if he’s OK we might pull him out again.”
There was, however, a sad postcript with the Bolger-trained 13-year-old Cantlow, who finished fifth, collapsing and dying when returning to the stables after the race.