Bryan Cooper was to have ridden the Gigginstown House Stud owned gelding, but missed the race, reportedly with a wrist problem.
Kevin Sexton stepped in and proved a more than capable deputy on a horse that won this race two years ago and was second to Marito last year.
And, indeed, these were the two that completely dominated the finish again, after Roi Du Mee had made most of the running.
Marito tried his case through the last half-mile, but could never get to the leader, who won with plenty in hand, despite being quite awkward at the last.
“I thought he’d win, if anywhere near his best, he’s a Grade 1 horse", remarked a delighted Sexton.
“It was straightforward, he loves the muck and jumped away. That is my first Listed win and was a brilliant spare to get."
Willie Mullins’ French-import, Avant Tout, was always a short price to take the David Flynn Building Contractors Maiden Hurdle and duly did the business.
He was a long way adrift of the trail-blazing Utmost Zeal for most of the journey, but gradually closed in for Ruby Walsh and had his measure when that horse suffered a tired fall at the final flight.
Commented Walsh: “I’d say you could call that (ground) heavy. I was never really confident, but he stays well and kept going all the way.’’
Mullins and Walsh were on the mark again when another former French horse, Sambremont, took the Padraig Curran South East Cleaners Maiden Hurdle.
He was a costly failure on his Irish debut at Clonmel and had defeat staring him in the face here also, as he struggled to close down Perfect Woman going to the last.
But Sambremont, a full brother to Djakadam, then found plenty for pressure and was nicely on top as the line loomed.
Mullins, who missed his opening success, was now on site and said: “I was disappointed with his first run and am delighted with that victory. He will stay novice hurdling this season, but is more of a chaser than a hurdler.’’
Just Get Cracking, trained by James Dullea at Bandon, slogged his way though the testing conditions to take the 2015 Waterford And Tramore Racecourse Supporters’ Club Handicap Hurdle.
Paul Townend was in the plate and he took his time, before producing Just Get Cracking to sweep ahead at the last.
Said Dullea: “He did it well in the end for a horse having a first run in a handicap.
“Paul felt he wasn’t in love with the ground, so we will wait for a bit of better ground.’’
Dullea completed his first ever double when West Of The Edge justified favouritism in the Ani-Pets Veterinary Clinic Handicap Hurdle.
The seven-year-old, by Westerner, was following up his win over fences at this track last month.
Beautifully handled by Declan Queally, West Of The Edge slipped into the lead with a circuit to cover and pulled out more than enough in the closing stages to hold Change The Rules.
“I’m delighted and knew the ground and trip were no problem’’, reported Dullea.
“We might go back chasing with him now.’’
Queally later rode his second winner of the day when guiding Davinia’s Tip to success in the Knockenduff Stud Martin McGrath Memorial Beginners Chase.
She made every yard of the running to easily beat Hop In, giving trainer, Adrian Maguire, a welcome turn.
“That was nice’’, said Maguire. “She jumped, handled the ground and handled the track.’’ Davinia’s Tip’s only other win came here on New Year’s Day last year in a maiden hurdle. The favourite, Wither Hills, fell at the first.
Tyrone House made most of the running to beat Distracted, the latter would surely have won, but for getting it wrong at the last, in the concluding Tom Carroll Memorial Handicap Chase.
This was real hard work, with the pair the only one ones to finish from a field of eight. Tyrone House, trained in Co Armagh by Marshall Watson, was ridden by his son, Keith.