War Of Attrition ran out an easy winner over Kicking King as the former Cheltenham Gold Cup winners did battle in the Star "Best For Racing Coverage" Chase at Punchestown.
Mouse Morris’ 2006 Prestbury Park hero had been off the track for 658 days but despite jumping slightly left in the early stages of the race, he barely put a foot wrong.
Riding the horse for the first time, Davy Russell always looked confident on the nine-year-old as he tracked Kicking King for the final mile.
Kicking King, the 2005 Gold Cup hero, could not go on after travelling well for a long way.
It was the third time War Of Attrition has won the corresponding race after victories in 2005 and 2006.
Watson Lake, another returning from an absence, made a serious mistake early and trailed home in third.
VC Bet and William Hill both make War Of Attrition a 25-1 chance to reclaim his crown in March.