Riven Light returned from a lengthy absence to win the valuable COLM QUINN BMW Mile Handicap for the second successive year at Galway.
The Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old was last seen competing in Group One company in Australia in October, where he picked up a serious leg injury.
He had screws inserted initially, but went lame again before Mullins nursed him right back to his best.
Competing off a mark some 16lb higher than that off which he won last year, he also had to overcome stall 18 – but proved so much better than his rivals it did not matter.
Danny Mullins – much better known for his exploits over jumps – could be spotted some way out to be travelling better than anything else and it was just a matter of whether he would blow up on his first run for 290 days.
In the end, the 11-1 chance stayed on powerfully to beat Aidan O’Brien’s Bond Street by three-quarters of a length,becoming just the second horse to win back-to-back runnings of the race.
Mullins said: “Danny gave him a great ride – he was ice cool. He put him asleep and that was the plan.
“This horse suffered a fracture in Australia and it was touch and go whether he’d even live or not.
“He had two screws inserted in his leg, but they had to come out eventually and all we were doing coming here was hoping. We said we’d plan an autumn campaign for him after this if things went all right.
“Adrenaline kicks in on the racetrack and that must have been what’s happened there.
“It’s a huge surprise, but we’re delighted.”
Mullins was on the mark at the beginning of the evening when Pakora maintained her unbeaten record over timber in fine style in the COLM QUINN BMW Novice Hurdle.
A clear second string in the market on the Listed contest for the champion trainer, her task was made easier when the hot favourite Exchange Rate exited at the first flight.
Ridden by Ruby Walsh, who made a winning comeback in the first race on Monday, Exchange Rate stuttered going into the first obstacle and his rider went out of the side door.
Thankfully, after his recent travails with injuries, Walsh was quickly on his feet.
Paul Townend was on Pakora, and it will have been a relief for him to have a less eventful race in the Al Boum Photo colours after what happened at the Punchestown Festival, when he mistakenly swerved the last fence when in front.
Pakora (5-1), decent on the Flat in France, beat Holding Pattern by eight and a half lengths.
“We always thought she was a very good filly, but we’ve found it hard to keep her sound,” said Mullins.
“She’s a filly that can go all the way if I can keep her right. She jumped very very well given her lack of experience.
“She could be a top-class filly.”
He added: “Exchange Rate seems fine. He jumped round behind and got a bit of practice!”
Another Mullins duo combined as St Stephens Green held off the challenge of Winter Escape to provide the Mee family with successive wins in the Latin Quarter Beginners Chase.
While Henry de Bromhead trained last year’s winner Three Wise Men, this time it was Emmet and David Mullins who combined for glory.
The 3-1 favourite knuckled down well and won by two and a quarter lengths.
“He schooled very well at home and we were hoping he’d bring it to the track,” said Emmet Mullins, who was on the mark with a winner on Monday as well.
“The two-mile-two trip was a bit of a worry, but he stuck his head out and he was game.
“He was spring-heeled at the last two.”
He added: “David was confident enough in the horse to give him a squeeze there and he delivered. All being well he’ll run Friday night if he’s OK.”
The regally-bred Hermosa got off the mark at the second time of asking in the COLM QUINN BMW Irish EBF Fillies Maiden.
O’Brien’s youngster, a sister to Group One winner Hydrangea, was an eycatching fourth on debut.
It was hard work, but Donnacha O’Brien eventually persuaded her to put her best foot forward.
“She’s improving away, but she’s still a bit backward,” said the rider. “Once I got a crack into her she picked up well.
“It was a good performance. She was green the first day and she was still a bit green today.
“For an inexperienced two-year-old this is a tough track, but once she got in the clear in the straight she was good.”
Sheila Lavery’s Burning Question (9-2) made all the running to claim the Caulfield Industrial Irish EBF Maiden, denting some lofty reputations in the process, including Dermot Weld’s well-bred newcomer Dabiyr.
A night to remember for the Lavery yard was completed through 20-1 chance Truffles in the caulfieldindustrial.com Handicap.
The trainer – recording her first double – said of Robbie Colgan’s mount: “It wasn’t easy from the draw she had and she got a lovely ride from Robbie.
“I’ve been asking Robbie to ride on the Flat for a few years now and then we’ve had a quiet time so I’m so pleased for him.
“She’s a home-bred out of a mare we bought from Juddmonte.”