Memories of his late father Paddy's 1981 Thyestes Chase triumph with June's Friend were fresh in Cork trainer Jimmy Mangan's mind after his heavily supported Whinstone Boy triumphed yesterday at Gowran Park.
Enterprisingly ridden up front by 21-year-old Sean Flanagan, the 5/1 second favourite pulled steadily away from Siegemaster in the straight and then withstood the late surge of Hangover at the muddy Kilkenny venue.
Generally available around 12/1 in the morning, the lightly weighted Whinstone Boy sent his three Belfast owners home very happy; as well as Conna-based Mangan and Wexford native Flanagan, who also guided Penny's Bill to a 50/1 surprise win in the Pierse Hurdle at Leopardstown last year.
The Clonroche pilot went close to recording a dream treble during the biggest jumps fixture of the year at Gowran, as he'd forced Carnbridge up close home to land the preceding handicap hurdle and later failed by only a neck aboard Borolee against Ard Agus Fada in the Jackpot finale.
Still, it could have been a different scenario for Mangan and Flanagan as Whinstone Boy's participation in the Tendrleen-sponsored highlight was only confirmed by Horse Racing Ireland shortly before the declaration deadline.
“Naturally I'm thrilled to have followed my father on to the Thyestes roll of honour, but it was a close call as it was about three minutes before the race closed on Wednesday morning that I knew we would get in off a nice mark rather than having to run him instead in the Galmoy Hurdle,” a relieved Mangan explained.
“This fellow is weak of his tendons and that's why the heavy ground suits him so well. His owners, who shared in our 2003 Grand National success with Monty's Pass, have been very patient and it's paid off today.
“The horse is a nine-year-old now and the plan has been that we'll be heading over to Aintree in April as his owners love it there.”
Meanwhile, Tony McCoy will ride Petit Robin in the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot.