Beautifully handled by Niall Madden, the eight-year-old was finally landing the big pot he has long threatened to deliver.
“It’s a long time coming, but he deserved that”, exclaimed Fitzgerald, who has just 20 horses in his care.
“Everyone who has ridden him has said he’s an Aintree horse and the Beecher Chase is now the plan.
“He’s hard to keep fit and may run on the flat beforehand. The ground came right. His blood picture wasn’t 100%, but I was happy with him coming here.”
For Madden it was another National, to go with the one that counts the most, the Aintree version which he won back in the spring aboard Numbersixvalverde.
Bothar Na flattered when edging into the lead early in the straight, but at the second last Pearly Jack was in front.
Star Clipper, from off the pace, and the always prominent Dix Villex tried to close, but this was Pearly Jack’s day and he crossed the line comfortably clear.
A year ago it was a different story with Star Clipper beating Pearly Jack in this valuable contest.
Justified duly landed the Sherry Fitzgerald O’Malley Chase, but you could hardly describe it as an impressive performance.
He made most, but got in close to a couple of fences and that tendency, which developed at the back-end of last season, to jump to his left was again apparent.
Indeed, he went markedly left at the last, with the contest in the bag, having had to be hard driven by Tony McCoy to shake off Tumbling Dice on the down hill run to the home turn.
Commented trainer, Dusty Sheehy: “Tony was happy and says he definitely wants to go up in trip.
The King Goerge is the aim and he will run somewhere prior to that.
“Races likes the James Nicholson at Down Royal, the Clonmel Oil Chase and the Durkan at Punchestown will be considered.”
Amalfitano, who gave Karl Wyse his first winner when taking a maiden at Listowel, doubled the trainer’s total with a game display in the Newenham Mulligan Novice Hurdle.
Barry Geraghty pushed him ahead after the second last, the final flight was omitted, and didn’t have to be hard on him to hold Davenport Democrat.
“We will continue to go the novice route and step him up in trip”, reported Wyse.
“We will be keeping our feet on the ground and will see at Christmas where we are going.”
Best for money in the ring was Eternal Lady, who was bowling along when taking a crashing fall, bringing down Midnight Gift, at the obstacle in front of the stands with a circuit to go.
Rider, J P Magnier, was on the ground for a long time and was removed to hospital in Limerick as a precaution, complaining of severe pain in his back and neck.
Geraghty did the business as well on Bernabeu for Edward O’Grady in the Oakbruce Properties Handicap Hurdle.
For A Song, like Davenport Democrat partnered by Ruby Walsh, tried to make all, but the winner edged past shortly after the last.
“He’s only a four-year-old and will be put away now and brought back in the spring”, reported O’Grady.
The maiden Foligold put up a classy performance to prove far too good for the opposition in the Michael Punch and Partners’ Hurdle.
Tommy Treacy eased him ahead between the final two flights and Foligold shot on to easily beat Daramas.
“The softer the ground the better and he will stay further”, said trainer, Jessica Harrington. “He will run next in either a novice or a winners’ of one.”
Unlucky horse of the contest was Silent Jo, who was challenging strongly when he and Tony McCoy departed company two out.
Warmest reception of a wet afternoon was reserved for Shane Broderick after The Long Haul had given him his second winner as a trainer, and his first over jumps, in the Pat Keogh BMW Handicap Hurdle.
Partnered by Johnny Levins, The Long Haul led three out and stayed on to beat Michael Hourigan’s Moscow Mo Chuisle.
Hourigan and Broderick, of course, teamed up with Dorans Pride to land the 1995 Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Said Broderick: “I have just nine horses and there is room for more. Johnny came back from England to be assistant trainer and has been a great help to me.”
Luckiest winner of the day was Willie Mullins’ Royal Heritage in the Pricewaterhousecoopers’ EBF Beginners Chase.
Knight Legend gave an exhibition of jumping and was a good four or five lengths clear when falling at the second last, leaving the winner to beat Little Alou.
Favourite Mounthnery, having a first run of the campaign and a first over fences, was travelling sweetly on the heels of the leaders when falling at the third last.
Good Tune got the full Nina Carberry treatment to touch off Special Memory in the final stride of the Bumper, the verdict a short head.
Mikey O’Connor, rider of the second placed Special Memory, was banned for 10 days for using the whip with excessive frequency.