Peter Maher’s Big Shu claimed a narrow victory in the Kildare Hunt Club Fr Sean Breen Memorial Chase, the opening race of the 2012 Punchestown Festival.
Amateur rider Benny Walsh decided to go for home early on the 8-1 chance, opening up a big lead before the cross-country field came back onto the racecourse proper.
Joint-favourite Boxer Georg, ridden by Patrick Mullins for his father, Willie, was the only horse to come out of the pack to mount a challenge and he looked a major threat jumping the final fence.
But Big Shu kept responding for pressure on the flat and had half a length in hand passing the post.
Maher said: “I have to thank Barry Cash for schooling this fellow and also all those friends of mine who let me use their gallops.”
Walsh added: “I got him jumping away after one boo-boo and he gave me a great spin after. The ground is testing out there.”
Alderwood secured his third major success of the spring with a determined performance under Tony McCoy in the Evening Herald Champion Novice Hurdle.
The Tom Mullins inmate beat experienced handicappers in the County Hurdle at last month’s Cheltenham Festival and followed up at Fairyhouse’s Easter meeting.
Turned out just a fortnight later, the 5-2 chance looked to have plenty on his plate against odds-on favourite Trifolium, especially when that rival swept by rounding the home turn.
However, an inspired McCoy persevered and his mount responded generously to collar Trifolium after the final flight and wrest the spoils by half a length.
Winning owner JP McManus said: “I thought he had it all to do when Trifolium passed him, but he battled on well and he’s a good, tough sort.
“Tom had him looking marvellous today.”
Paddy Power make Alderwood 33-1 to return to Cheltenham and land the Champion Hurdle next March.