Simply Ned lunged late to successfully defend his crown and cause another big upset in the Paddy’s Rewards Club “Sugar Paddy” Chase.
The Nicky Richards-trained veteran had made five previous appearances at Leopardstown, finishing out of the first three just once.
The 11-year-old enjoyed his day in the sun when claiming this prize last season – passing the post narrowly behind the Willie Mullins-trained Min before the result was reversed in the stewards’ room – and he was sent off at 16-1 for a repeat.
Mullins once again fielded the hot favourite in Footpad (evens), who was bidding to bounce back from a disappointing comeback run at Naas.
For much of the two-mile journey everything appeared to be going to plan for the market leader, who jumped accurately under Ruby Walsh and swept to the front on the run to the final fence.
He looked to have victory in the bag after setting off up the run-in, but Mark Walsh conjured a late run out of Simply Ned and got up to score by half a length – completing a treble on the day for the winning jockey.
Mullins’ second string Great Field made much of the running, but appeared booked for a place at best when crashing out at the final obstacle.
Richards said: “We didn’t need the stewards’ room today thank God!
“He was brilliant. He ran a grand race at Cheltenham last month, but now that he’s getting on in age he takes a bit more getting fit than before. We thought that just put him bang-on for today.
“He loves a good fast pace and he finished it out well. Happy days.”
He added: “I’d say he’ll come back here in February (Dublin Chase) if he’s in grand fettle.
“No doubt these lads will all go on to Cheltenham and be battling at Punchestown.
“We’ve had our Gold Cup and had our day in the sun today, which is absolutely great.
“He’s run against some good horses here. There was only one horse that ever annihilated him and that was Douvan.”
Mullins said of Footpad: “I wonder did he just need the run. He missed a bit of time with that over-reach after his last race and Ruby thought he might have actually blown up.
“Hopefully he did, as I thought he had the race won going to the last. I thought he was fine coming here, but there you are. You can’t get them back straight away, you have to gradually bring them back in.
“I was delighted to see he was back jumping the way he jumped last year and he was almost foot-perfect.
“We won’t be changing any plans and we’ll keep going down the road we’re going.
“Great Field is fine as far as I know. Both horse and jockey are fine.”