Easy Game got back on the winning trail with a determined display in the Devenish Chase at Fairyhouse.
The Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old had been a little disappointing since landing the PWC Champion Chase at Gowran Park in October – most recently unseating his rider at Thurles in January.
With likely favourite Fakir D’oudairies a significant non-runner, Easy Game was the 11-8 market leader for his latest Grade Two test, with Brian Hayes taking over in the saddle from the sidelined Paul Townend.
Having jumped with zest and travelled powerfully on the heels of the leaders, the French-bred gelding moved to the lead early in the home straight, with Castlegrace Paddy emerging as his biggest threat.
There was not much to choose between the pair approaching the final obstacle, but it was Easy Game who jumped it the better and that may well have proved crucial, with just three-quarters of a length separating the pair at the line.
Mullins said: “He really appreciated the nicer ground today. Brian said the last day in Thurles he was getting stuck in the ground, but today he was jumping so well and he was really happy with him.
“Brian is a great chase jockey and this was a nice spare for him. He gives horses great confidence.
“The horse looked beaten going to the last, but Brian pulled him together for one jump and it paid off for him.
“I’d imagine he’ll go to Punchestown.”