A trying day for championship leader Paul Townend came right when Bootlegger supplied him with a success in the Holycross Maiden Hurdle at Thurles.
Now on to the 81-winner mark, six ahead of nearest pursuer Rachael Blackmore, Townend was in with every chance when unseated from D’bru Na Boinne at the last in the second race.
He also partnered two disappointing runners for his boss, Willie Mullins, in Dolciano Dici and Karl Der Grosse, while their stable companion Great White Shark fared better under Townend, when second in the maiden hurdle.
However, the 2010-11 champion Townend did not let previous reverses affect him when he gave Edward O’Grady’s Bootlegger a confident steer over the final hurdles.
The Cork man did drop his whip on the run-in, but in first-time cheek-pieces, Bootlegger (8-1) edged out Extrapolate and odds-on favourite Spyglass Hill by three-quarters of a length and a neck.
O’Grady said: “He has been a work in progress and I’m very thankful to Mr and Mrs Magnier because he cost a few quid as a three-year-old.
“He hasn’t been without problems here and there – ‘issues’ you’d call them these days!
“As a result it has taken him a good while to get to the track and he is still terribly green – that’s why I put the cheek-pieces on.
“You’d hope he’ll be a chaser down the line and even if my jockey keeps his stick, he may even go better then next time – it’s just as well he is a champion jockey!”
Derek O’Connor completed a first and last race double. His mount, the Joseph O’Brien-trained Sempo (11-8 favourite) could not have been any more impressive in the Munster INH Flat Race.
Sempo was appearing for the third time in public and never gave his connections or backers any worries as he won by 15 lengths.
O’Brien said: “He’s probably good enough to line up in any bumper, but I don’t know if we need to over-race him.
“He has had three runs in bumpers now and I don’t know what advantage to him it would be to win a winners’ bumper, so I’ll talk to Martin (O’Sullivan, owner) and see how he comes out of the race.”
As he so often is, point-to-point legend O’Connor was also the punters pal in the Templemore Beginners Chase, winning on Ex Patriot (11-8 favourite) for Ellmarie Holden.
The aforementioned D’bru Na Boinne was still in there fighting when unseating at the final fence in the Join Us Here Again February 21st Handicap Chase, leaving All The Chimneys (9-2) to triumph for Willie Austin and David Mullins.
Polished Steel (3-1) registered a convincing six-length win in thurles.ie Maiden Hurdle for Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power, while Gordon Elliott saddled the first and third in the Horse & Jockey Rated Novice Hurdle.
Jack Kennedy rode neck victor Moratorium (11-2) and his stable companion Getaway John (9/2) was three-quarters of a length back in third.
Ryan Treacy got Cher Why Not (9-4 favourite) up near the line to take the Killinan Handicap Hurdle for in-form local trainer Tim Doyle.