Grand National-winning jockey Liam Treadwell returned to the big time with his most high-profile success since Aintree as The Last Derby caused a 33-1 upset in Ascot's United House Gold Cup.
The Irish raider's shock success acutely demonstrated the emotional highs and lows of National Hunt racing with trainer Eoin Griffin's first runner at the track, Sanglote, suffering a fatal fall in the previous race.
Treadwell, who steered Mon Mome to a 100-1 victory on Merseyside, again rode with patience and produced the lightly-raced five-year-old over the penultimate obstacle to prove five-lengths too strong for Aimigayle.
Shining Gale ran an eyecatching race with the Paddy Power Gold Cup in mind and stayed on nicely for third.
Treadwell said: "That was the first time I met Mr Griffin and I hope I meet him again!
"These big wins are few and far between. It has been a slow start to the season but I'll settle for this."
Griffin said: "We have always thought a lot of him, and two-and-a-half miles at Tipperary last time was a bit sharp for him.
"Barry Geraghty suggested we stepped him up in trip. I was then flicking through the calendar and saw this race and decided to give it a go."
The winner is another engaged in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in two weeks' time and the sponsors trimmed him to 16-1 from 33s.
Griffin added: "It might come a bit soon for him but we will get him home and see how he is before making a decision."
Johnny Henderson Grand Annual third French Opera hit the right notes to get off the mark over fences at the fifth time of asking as Tony McCoy steered the 5-4 favourite to a 10-length romp in the Ascot Underwriting Beginners' Chase.
The six-year-old's task was much reduced after his main rival Cockney Trucker tipped up early on, but Nicky Henderson's representative still had to survive a mistake of his own heading into Swinley Bottom.
Henderson said: "He made a mistake at the fence down the hill, but AP said it wasn't totally his fault. The rain has got into the top of the ground and he slipped slightly.
"After he finished third in the Grand Annual last year I decided to keep him as a novice for this season, and the Grand Annual is again the target for obvious reasons."
Henderson and McCoy combined for a short-priced double as 6-4 favourite You're The Top claimed the scalp of his market rival William Hogarth in the Cushman & Wakefield Novices' Hurdle.
Henderson added: "This is the perfect way to start and he will now go chasing. We have schooled him and he is ready to go."
It was a case of mission accomplished for Dani's Girl (10-1) after Pat Phelan saddled the mare to a laughably easy victory in the Listed williamhill.com Handicap Hurdle.
The six-year-old was transferred from Pat Fahy's Irish yard to Phelan's Epsom base with the aim of adding some black type to her breeding prospects, and she achieved that with consummate ease under rising star Peter O'Toole.
Phelan said: "There is another race for her next weekend at Sandown. We'll have a think about that if she comes out of this well."
Timmy Murphy executed a ride from the top drawer aboard Barney Curley's 3-1 favourite Zabeel Palace to notch a cheeky success in the Canaccord Adams Novices' Handicap Hurdle.
Curley commented: "Timmy rode him wonderfully and followed my instructions to the letter."
Master Medic earned a 12-1 quote with the sponsors for the Paddy Power after rattling off his fourth straight success as the 9-2 favourite in the Byrne Group Handicap Chase.
Connections were reluctant to commit him to the Cheltenham target though with just 14 days between the two races.
Karen McLintock joined Griffin and Phelan with her first Ascot winner as Nodforms Violet justified his position as 9-4 favourite in the Broadway Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.