Hobbs excels with Snap Tie
Philip Hobbs produced a quite magnificent training performance as Snap Tie won the handicap hurdle under top-weight at Punchestown.
The 10-year-old had last been seen winning a Cheltenham novice chase in October 2009 and Hobbs had gradually nursed his charge back to fitness.
Richard Johnson was never too far off the pace on the 16-1 chance and his task was made easier when strong travelling joint-favourite Ceol Rua slipped up on the flat before the turn for home.
Benash emerged as the only serious threat to the British raider in the straight, but Snap Tie kept pulling out more to register a two-length victory.
Johnson told At The Races: "Massive credit must go to Philip and everyone at the yard for getting the horse back.
"He was going to run in the County Hurdle last year and then went wrong a week before the race.
"The aim was the County Hurdle again this year and it's ended up being here. It's just fantastic performance to get a horse like that back to win at a Festival.
"He was seventh in a Champion Hurdle and placed in a Supreme Novices' Hurdle, so his ability is pretty high and he still retains a lot of it.
"The handicapper has given him a chance after a long time off and he jumped and travelled and I knew he'd stay.''
Hobbs said: "After he won his novice chase at Cheltenham he had a suspensory problem and last season he suffered a reoccurrence.
"For him to do that after two and a half years off is amazing - he's some horse.
"He's come down in the handicap but he is a 10-year-old now. He doesn't go on soft ground, either, so it's staggering.
"It's difficult to know what route to take with him now. He wouldn't be a summer horse but we could look at something like the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock for him."
Peter Maher's Big Shu claimed a narrow victory in the Kildare Hunt Club Fr Sean Breen Memorial Chase in the opening race.
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."
Tom Mullins saddled his second winner of the day following Alderwood's victory as 16-1 shot Some Article made a winning racecourse debut in the valuable Goffs Land Rover Bumper.
Mark Fahey sent his mount to the lead before the home turn and despite running green, the four-year-old gallop on strongly down the centre of the track to come home with seven and a half lengths in hand over Catamongdepidgeons.
Mullins said: "We always thought a lot of him but we thought he was still babyish. His class won it for him.
"He'll come on a lot mentally and physically - he's a big horse with a lot of strengthening up to do.
"I'd say he'd go around again, he came back in very fresh.
"He took it up a bit too early and he must be a hell of a horse on what he's done today with all the hotpots that were in it."
There was a further success for Britain in the closing bumper as 25-1 shot Grand Jesture struck for Don Cantillon.