Third Wind (9/2) held off the renewed challenge of Lisnagar Oscar (6/1) to win the William Hill Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock.
In doing so Hughie Morrison's charge was paying a compliment to Paisley Park and Thyme Hill having finished fifth behind that pair in the Long Walk at Ascot.
He looked set to for a comfortable victory when going a couple of lengths clear after the last but the runner-up, winner of the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham, rallied strongly.
At the line was a closing three-quarters-of-a-length adrift with On the Bright Side, one of three 4/1 co-favourites, close-up in third.
Paddy Power and Betfair cut the runner-up to 16/1 from 25s to retain his title next month.
“We didn’t put him in the Stayers’ Hurdle because we thought he got beaten fair and square at Ascot (in the Long Walk),” said Morrison.
“He obviously enjoys a flat track and I think he won with a bit in hand probably, he doesn’t do a lot when he hits the front.
“But he was getting 6lb from the second and I think that would put him fourth or fifth in the Stayers’ Hurdle.
“I haven’t spoken to the owner yet and we’ll sit back and enjoy this – and if the owners can’t go to Cheltenham, they’re less interested in going as well. The race at Aintree might appeal.”
Winning rider Tom Cannon said: “I’ve ridden against him a few times, but this was the first time I’d ridden him. I’d spoken to Tom O’Brien who usually rides, and obviously Hughie who gave me the lowdown.
“We were lucky they went a good gallop and he got in a good rhythm. I was able to stay on the rail, but I didn’t want to hit the front too soon as it’s such a long run-in.
“I was thinking if I had to take a pull and come round that wouldn’t matter, but as it happened I got a clean run.”
For Rebecca Curtis, all roads now lead to the defence of Lisnagar Oscar’s Stayers’ Hurdle crown.
“I’m really pleased with that. We gave him a wind op and it’s clearly worked. I’m delighted,” she said. “It’s not easy giving weight away so I’m delighted and it’s next stop Cheltenham.
“Some might have thought it was a fluke last year, but we never have and he always runs his best races at Cheltenham.”