Tidal Bay got up in the final strides to land what looked an unlikely victory in a thrilling renewal of the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown.
Ruby Walsh got an amazing run out of the Paul Nicholls-trained gelding to pass several rivals on the run-in to give owner Graham Wylie a second Grade One on the card after Back In Focus took the Topaz Chase.
In a bunch finish, Tidal Bay (9-2) snatched the spoils from First Lieutenant, with Flemenstar and Sir Des Champs just behind.
The Neil Mulholland-trained Midnight Chase made the running with Hidden Cyclone and Quito De La Roque on his heels and Tidal Bay held up in the rear.
Hidden Cyclone went on during the final circuit while Flemenstar appeared to be going ominously well as Peter Casey's stable star tried to take his winning sequence to eight, on his first try at three miles. China Rock led two out, but Flemenstar was still going best and landed over the last with the race to win. However, his stamina appeared to give out on the soft ground on the run to the line.
Tidal Bay still had a few lengths to make up but he found what was necessary as Walsh produced him between horses, getting up to score by a head from First Lieutenant with Flemenstar third. Sir Des Champs was just behind but his chances of success were not helped by his jumping.
Nicholls said: "The extra two furlongs at Cheltenham will suit him well. He's in the form of his life for an 11-year-old. Roll on Cheltenham."
Wylie said: "This is up there with Inglis Drever. Back In Focus and now Tidal Bay. Both looked like they were beat over the last and both came with a great run in the end and just nicked it. I thought our fella was cooked four out, but then he started to come again. He's just got guts that horse. Paul has done an amazing job with him and Ruby as well. He gave him a great ride because you have to be patient."
Walsh said: "He jumped the second-last well and I got through the gap going to the last. He was really finishing and I thought I had a chance of getting to them. He was a bit flat-footed at the last and he took time to pick up, but when he did he started to fly and I guess 100 yards down I was thinking I was going to get there.
"Everyone was in the same boat. We all knew Flemenstar's stamina had to be tested and Midnight Chase went a good honest gallop and the tempo was upped all the way. It was a real true-run contest. He's a different horse this year. He won at Wetherby, was second in the Hennessy at Newbury and has come and won today. It's brilliant."
20 December 2014Henderson pleased with big guns
Mulholland serves up Master-class
Bayan bags big Ascot prize
Broadway proves a show-stopper
Three Long Walks for super Sivola
Queen wears Listed crown
Nicholls strikes with Saint
Sceaux puts in impressive show
Silvi the star turn in King George
Sceaux puts in impressive show
Geraghty enthused by Bobs work
Walsh pain at Vautour defection
Billy puffing his chest out again
Master back in the spotlight
Grugy in line to start cantering
Newland seeks more from Re
Prize money boost in HRI initiative
Zig zips to impressive victory
New steroids policy delayed
Serge states Supreme case
Exciting Sceaux out at Fairyhouse
Firebird skips National service
19 December 2014Martin readying big guns
Hobbs on Garde at Ascot
Fry excited by Activial chance
The New One in Haydock return
Reve camp not expecting a hat-trick
King issues Chatez Triumph warning
Bolger searching for Mossey key
King weighs up Karezak options
Henderson hoping Bobs makes Lexus
Simonsig camp play the long game
In-form Mole buries Exeter rivals
Sedgefield hit with heavy fine
Star names check in for Ryanair
Bobs revved up for Lexus repeat
Knott disqualified for three years
Geraghty braced for power Serge
Geraghty excited by Josses return
Activial stars in Ladbroke field
18 December 2014Alvarado back for National service
Winner given Lexus go-ahead
Cheltenham dreams for King's Zero
Sivola bids for Long Walk hat-trick
Power plan uncertain for Westener
Kauto pleases in Olympia display
Mullins eyes twin assault on Lexus
Value oozes class in Newbury romp
Annie Power on road to recovery
Spencer strikes after U-turn
Vautour ready for next jumps test
Mullins banks on Faugheen progress
Victory set to skip Ladbroke
Mullins: Fever can go the distance
17 December 2014Sidelined Brian misses Whittle
Sceaux to sidestep Haydock raid
Square season derailed by injury
Lexus a non-starter for Clouds
Europe return hinges on ground
Injury woe for Cookson
Plans on hold for Topper
Appeal success for Russell/Enright
Mulholland makes Master plan
Cango makes Catterick impression
Field sizes under BHA microscope
Quinn outlines Aurore options
Legal laying down the law at Ludlow
Ground dictates Attaglance plans
King heartened by Walkon return
Cross set Christmas conundrum