Supasundae put a disappointing run at Leopardstown over Christmas, firmly behind him, as he landed the big race of the day at Punchestown, the Free Festival Upgrade Ticket Offer Hurdle this afternoon.
An interesting field of six went to post for this 2 ½ mile contest.
Sure Reef, off the track for almost three years, made his return here and from flag fall set the tempo under Ruby Walsh.
Racing down the back, Sure Reef was still in front of Supasundae, with Monksland third and then Le Cuieux, My Murphy and Tycoon Prince.
Four out and Supasundae joined Sure Reef up front but the field were bunched up in behind, heading to the third from home, with Monksland third and then the improving Tycoon Prince.
Supasundae went into the clear lead two from home with MOnksland the challenger, as Sure Reef dropped back and Tycoon Prince struggled to get on terms.
Supasundae however found more in the straight and was five lengths clear at the last, jumping well and stretching away from an impressive victory. Monksland came home second and was clear of Sure Reef, who gamely fought back to claim third place ahead of Tycoon Prince.
The Jessica Harrington trained six year old had been highly tried since winning a maiden hurdle over Christmas 2015, and this was his first success since then.
Harrington said: “We took a chance. Robbie got off him the other day and said he wants 2m4f. He seemed to come out of the race okay.
“He jumped much better today, and the run in a handicap the other day blew off the cobwebs. I think he likes that nice ground, and doesn’t want it too heavy.”
The win ended a mixed week for Harrington, who had scaled the heights with the Grade 1 victory of Our Duke, but sadly lost promising novice hurdler Sunni May yesterday. Harrington added: “The bad news is that Sunni May has died of a heart attack. He just went out yesterday for a short canter and had only gone about 150 yards when it happened.
“That’s the ups and downs of racing.”