Supasundae claimed a dramatic victory after both Samcro and Melon came to grief in the BETDAQ 2% Commission Punchestown Champion Hurdle.
The previously unbeaten Samcro was the 5-6 favourite for Gordon Elliott, stepping out of novice company the first time, with the Willie Mullins-trained Melon widely regarded as his biggest threat after pushing Buveur D’Air all the way in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Last year’s winner Wicklow Brave, also trained by Mullins, cut out much of the running under the trainer’s son, Patrick, and remained in front approaching the third flight from home.
Samcro and Melon, ridden by Jack Kennedy and Paul Townend respectively, were both making their move when they fell independently at the same obstacle.
From that point Robbie Power took dead aim at Wicklow Brave aboard Jessica Harrington’s Irish Champion Hurdle winner Supasundae and the 7-1 shot powered clear for a decisive three-and-a-quarter-length success.
Wicklow Brave was a clear second ahead of another Mullins inmate Bleu Berry in third.
Power said: “I saw Samcro fall, I didn’t know Melon had fallen, but if you don’t buy a ticket, you don’t win.”
Harrington said: “Maybe we got lucky there, but he was going very well when the other two fell, and as soon as he got to the front, he started to pull himself up.
“He’s had an unbelievable season, when you think of what he’s done. He’s a horse that went to Cheltenham, Aintree and finished second in both those places, and then on to win here.
“He has put in some great performances, he’s a great horse.”
Samcro’s eclipse meant Elliott could no longer overhaul Mullins in the battle to be champion trainer in Ireland – a race he led for so much of the season – but he was simply relieved to see his runner return seemingly none the worse.
He said: “Samcro is OK. We gave him a trot in there and he’s OK. We’ll go back and have a look at him when he cools down, but he looks OK and once he’s OK and Jack is OK, we live to fight another day.
“It’s a great game to level you, but we keep smiling and keep going.”
He added: “It’s too early to make a decision on what he might do next season. I couldn’t have been happier with how he was travelling and jumping. He looked like he was loving it. He will be something to look forward to next year.
“Jack said he just skidded at the back of the hurdle. He didn’t make a mistake and just didn’t get the (landing) gear out.”
Kennedy said: “He jumped it great, I went down to it and gave him a little squeeze and he came up and landed, but his front legs just slipped out from underneath him.
“There was no coming back from it and it was just one of those things. He jumped it fine, but it was just unfortunate.
“It’s rare to have one tip up having jumped it fine, but it can happen. We had gone a good gallop and he had travelled and jumped away and I just thought it was a matter of asking him to pick up, but we didn’t get that far.
“He’s none the worse for it anyway and that’s the main thing.”