Champion hurdler Faugheen has overcome a couple of jumping mistakes to win his steepelchase debut at Punchestown.
The winner of the 2015 Champion Hurdle was making his first start over fences at the age of 11 in the Beginners Chase after an indifferent season over hurdles season.
Punters kept faith with the Willie Mullins-trained runner and he was sent off the 8-11 favourite.
Paul Townend was happy to let Faugheen bowl along in front and everything appeared to be going swimmingly for the nine-time Grade One winner until he came to the eighth fence.
He met the obstacle all wrong, but Townend somehow managed to maintain the partnership and recover his lost irons in time to jump the next, but Lord Schnitzel had powered through to take control.
Faugheen then pecked mucked up the landing at the third-last fence and it looked as though he may have forfeited any chance of a win.
But his class came to the fore and he cleared the final two fences without incident to win by an impressive 7-1/2 lengths.
Faugheen was given an enthusiastic welcome, with racegoers at Cheltenham also cheering him home while watching on screens.
“He was brilliant over the first half dozen until he made that mistake. It was probably the first ditch that he’d seen!” Mullins said.
“Paul said he just put down and tried to do what he does over hurdles, which is gallop out through it. Now he realises that you can’t do that and by the time he got over the last two, Paul was very happy with him.
“He showed a nice turn of foot when he had to ask him to race going down to the last and after it. The engine certainly seemed to be there.
“I’m happy that we got today out of the way and we’ll see how he comes out of this before deciding where we go next.”