Benefit Night set himself up for a crack at the Midlands Grand National with a pillar-to-post success in the Lucan Racing Leinster National at Naas.
The 11-year-old had struggled since winning four races in the 2006-07 season, which culminated in a win in the Grade Two Nas Na Riogh Chase.
However, racing from a mark some 18lb lower than that of his peak, he never saw another rival under a positive Davy Condon.
Sent off at 33-1, Benefit Night came home 11 lengths clear of his long-time pursuer Lurgan.
For his trainer Daniel O’Sullivan, it was a relief to see him back in the winner’s enclosure.
“That’s the first time he’s had a light weight like that and he loves it around here. He’ll probably go for the Midlands National at Uttoxeter now,” said O’Sullivan.
“He has to go left-handed and that’s been a problem all along as it limits where he can go. His run in the cross-country last time sweetened him up. He’s only had three runs this season and this is his ground.
“He is a tough horse when he gets his own way.”
Condon had earlier won on Dermot Weld’s Prince Erik (6-1) in the Naas Directors Plate Novice Chase who prevailed after a battle with Montan.
The grey seven-year-old ran in the 2007 Irish Derby and finished second in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham last March but a return to Prestbury Park is unlikely.
“He’s a very fit horse and he did it well,” said Weld. “He’s in two of the handicaps at Cheltenham but I thought he had too much weight and I’d say he won’t run.
“I don’t know whether he’d be good enough for the likes of the Irish National, but we’ll see.”
Noel Meade’s Dilshaan’s Prize looks a nice prospect after his win in the www.naasracecourse.com Novice Hurdle but the main story of the race was the dismal showing of Willie Mullins’ Cottrelsbooley (4-7 favourite).
Paul Carberry was always going well in the winner, and he only had to be pushed out to beat Mackeys Forge by a length and a half.
Meade said: “That was great, just what we needed. He’s a fair useful horse but he’s been dogged by injury. Every time he’s run something has happened to him.
“He came back from Listowel with a crack in a hind leg and he’s just been very difficult. He’ll go for another novice now and hopefully he’ll stay sound.
“He wouldn’t want the ground too quick. He was quite decent on the Flat in France. He ran in a lot of Listed races there and he was always there or there-abouts.”
The beaten favourite returned clinically abnormal.
Mullins had better luck in the Naas Racecourse on Facebook Maiden Hurdle when Lambro (4-7 favourite) cruised to victory under Paul Townend.
“The drier ground seemed to make a difference. He’ll go for a winners-of-one now. He is a nice recruit from the point-to-point field,” said Mullins.
Shirley Casper finally got it right over fences in the Billy Brophy Memorial Beginners Chase.
Dessie Hughes’ mare set out to make every yard of the running under Paddy Flood and never saw another rival.
“It’s overdue. Good ground is the key to her and there’s plenty of novices left for her. Once the ground dries up she’ll improve a lot,” said Hughes.
“The plan was to make it here. She’s a two and a half mile mare really and she doesn’t quicken that much but she goes a good pace and keeps it up.”
Silent Creek (12-1) was a winner for Christy Roche and Alan Crowe in the Naas Supporters Handicap Hurdle.