Rathvinden is firmly on course for Aintree after giving Willie Mullins an eighth success in the BetVictor Bobbyjo Chase on his reappearance in the Grade Three feature at Fairyhouse.
Out of action since finishing fourth in the Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown in April, the Cheltenham National Hunt Chase scorer made his stamina tell in the closing stages.
In doing so, he boosted his claims for the Randox Health Grand National and was cut to 12/1 from 20/1 to be second-favourite behind Tiger Roll.
Alpha Des Obeaux had made a bold bid to lead all the way, but could not hold Rathvinden, who was brought into contention from four out.
The complexion of the race had changed when Magic Of Light, the 6/4 favourite, unseated Robbie Power at the eighth-last fence.
1st 3 Rathvinden (IRE) 10/3
2nd 2 Alpha Des Obeaux (FR) 2/1
- Winning Trainer: W P Mullins
- Winning Jockey: P Townend
- Runners: 6 ran
- Non-Runners: 5
- Unpl.Fav:Magic Of Light (IRE) 6/4 F
- Distances: 3 ½
- Tote Win: €4.70
- Pl: €1.40, €1.40
- EX: €12.70
- Trifecta: €52.90
- SF: €11.16
Rathvinden (100/30) came clear on the run-in to win by three and a half lengths under Paul Townend. The winner was Mullins' only representative after Pleasant Company, the winner in 2017, was a late withdrawal.
Mullins said: "That was a nice first run of the season, and I'd imagine he'll go for the National. That would be the usual route from here. We're keen to go and the owner is keen to go.
"He was really firing at home and I was really happy with him."
He added: "He's a horse that's had his troubles over the years and he's good and sound now so he may not have another run before the National.
"We'll see how he comes out of this race first."
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