Balbriggan put up an admirable front-running performance to land a gamble in the highly-competitive Ladbrokes Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan.
Available at 14-1 in places this morning, the Gordon Elliott-trained grey was sent off the 4-1 favourite and barely gave his legion of supporters an anxious moment en route to the €60,000 first prize.
Ridden with supreme confidence by 3lb claimer Kevin Sexton, Balbriggan saw off all-comers as he bounded to victory by a length and three-quarters from Omega Star.
Groody Hill, winner of this race in 2011, stayed on strongly for third with Back Off Mate fourth.
"It was easy enough to fancy him off a light weight," said Sexton, last season's champion Irish conditional rider..
"He was loving it all in front. His ears were pricked and he was winging his fences.
"He loves galloping and he handles soft ground."
"He loves galloping and he handles soft ground" - Jockey Kevin Sexton comments on Balbriggan
Elliott, completing a double on the day, said: "He's owned by two soccer agents (Lee Power and Willie McKay).
"We gave a good few quid for him but he's paid his way now. He ran at Sedgefield because the lads were going to be there and we had a great day out.
"I couldn't believe the price he was (20-1 on Saturday and 11-1 on track). He's in all the staying chases like the Becher and the Paddy Power.
"He'd a nice light weight on his back and Kevin jumped him out and made use of it. He gave him a fine ride."
Balbriggan was cut to 12-1 from 14-1 for the Coral Welsh National with Paddy Power.
Elliott also won with the unbeaten Free Expression (11-10 favourite), who took the step up to Grade Two level for the Monksfield Novice Hurdle in his stride under Mark Walsh, coming home a length and a quarter clear after Martello Tower fell two out.
Vautour looks sure to take high rank in the novice division this season judged by the professional way he went about the business of winning the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners Chase on his fencing debut.
Unbeaten in five starts last season including the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, Willie Mullins' 2-11 favourite was sent straight to the front by Ruby Walsh and took the fences in his stride to beat Clarcam by eight lengths without coming off the bridle.
Mullins' dual bumper winner Milsean (2-11 favourite) led all the way under Bryan Cooper in the INH Stallion Owners EBF Maiden Hurdle, though he had to be driven along to win by a length and a half. Cooper, however, picked up a four-day ban after interference between the final two flights.
The champion trainer sent out his third winner of the day and eighth of the weekend when 11-8 favourite Lyrical Theatre mopped up the Listed ITBA Fillies Scheme EBF Mares INH Flat Race, cruising eight and a half lengths clear under Patrick Mullins.
Pencilhimin (20-1) found plenty from the front to hold favourite Gallant Oscar in the Proudstown Handicap Hurdle, while the well-backed Glenquest (11-2) stretched clear in the Navan Race Membership Handicap Hurdle.