Kemboy catapulted himself into the Cheltenham Gold Cup picture with a dominant display in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown.
David Mullins made a bold move after only a mile to sweep around the field and take up the running and the six-year-old relished being out in front.
Trained by Willie Mullins, Kemboy was stepping up in class and trip having won the Clonmel Oil Chase on his reappearance, after which he was supposed to contest the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury.
Bad weather prevented him from making the journey to Berkshire at the 11th hour, but his enthusiastic owners of the Supreme Racing Club gained more than adequate compensation.
Monalee kept him company on the front end as Outlander dropped away, but approaching the second last most of his rivals were being ridden, including last year’s winner and favourite Road To Respect, who slipped badly and nearly came down on the final bend.
A big leap at the last sealed the deal and Kemboy (8-1) powered seven and a half lengths clear of Monalee, with Road To Respect running on well in the circumstances for third.
Paddy Power slashed the winner to 10-1 from 50s for the Gold Cup.
David Mullins said: “We were going very, very slow and even when I hit the front with a lap to go, we were still going slow.
“Everything went to plan really except we had to just let him go, nobody took me on. He jumped well and there is still plenty to improve on I think.
“He could be a proper horse.”
It had been a mixed day for the Mullins yard prior to the race, with several odds-on shots turned over and Faugheen falling.
“I don’t think a winner was ever so badly wanted, the way our horses were running today, a good few of them have been just a bit off form so it was fantastic,” said Mullins.
“When I saw David going on past the stand, I was thinking about what choice words I was going to say to him afterwards, but he said they just slowed down the race too much and his horse was keen.
“He thought he got an easy lead in front, which obviously it was because he still had plenty left in the tank coming to the last, and the way he flew up the hill after the last was very good.”
Mullins continued: “This horse has improved, obviously. We didn’t bring him to the Ladbroke Trophy in Newbury. I was afraid of the ground, and carrying that type of weight as well, it would take a long time to recover from it so I said we’d just bank on coming for a big race like this off level weights (instead).
“Conditions didn’t really suit him, but he had improved at home and we said we’d just give him his chance to be a good horse and if not, we could always go back and do something else.
“His mark was probably gone. When you’re nearly top-weight in the Ladbroke – he probably was top-weight in the Ladbroke – when you have a horse at that level, you’ve got to either (go on to) be a good horse or you fall back down the ranks and he’s made the step up to be a good horse.
“We have given him such a break from Clonmel to here that we might give him a break the whole way to Cheltenham and go there with a fresh horse.”