The admirable Royal Diamond dug deep for trainer-jockey Johnny Murtagh to claim victory in the Gain Irish St Leger Trial at the Curragh.
Winner of the Irish St Leger itself over the course and distance last September, 7-2 shot Royal Diamond looked to have his work cut out in this particular event as he met 4-9 favourite Ernest Hemingway, who had proved too strong on their previous two meetings this season.
Royal Diamond bowled along merrily at the head of affairs and it was clear from the home turn Ernest Hemingway was struggling to bridge the gap.
Voleuse De Coeurs emerged as the biggest threat to the leader in the final furlong, but Royal Diamond would not be denied, holding on by half a length. Ernest Hemingway was disappointing, finishing well held in third.
Murtagh said: "That was great. It was a big decision whether to go to York (for the Lonsdale Cup) or come here. I felt this was the right race for him as it's just up the road.
"He's really come on from the last day. I tried to be a bit clever last time by going quick but not too quick in front. He's a specialist over a mile and six, all of his wins have come at that trip. When the runner-up came to me, he stuck his neck out and ground it out.
"He comes good at this time of year. Hopefully in three weeks' time he'll come back here and defend his title. He's a wonderful horse for us to have."