Benbecula and Niall McCullagh
©Healy Racing Photos
Benbecula gained compensation for an unfortunate run last time when landing the Crowne Plaza Leading Jockey & Trainer Championship Maiden under the Dundalk lights.
Tommy Carmody sent out 18 winners in the now familiar Andrew Tinkler colours last year and got off the mark for 2013 as the 5-2 chance showed commendable spirit in the hands of Niall McCullagh.
The four-year-old, whose saddle slipped when he finished second at the track on his last visit, took it up over a furlong out and battled on to repel all challengers, scoring by three-quarters of a length.
Eoin Doyle's 7-4 favourite Days Ahead, who won a two-mile chase at Tramore in October, took the first division of the Happy New Year To All Our Patrons Handicap by half a length after asserting close home under Seamie Heffernan.
Dimitar (7-2 favourite) was played late by Shane Gorey in the Dundalk Stadium Light Up Your Night Handicap and once popped the question Eddie Lynam's four-year-old swept through to score by a length and three-quarters.
Ger Lyons' 5-4 favourite Burn The Boats gave supporters no worries in the Fundraising Made Easy At Dundalk Stadium Claiming Maiden, coasting ahead inside the final furlong and quickly going clear to win by five lengths under Emmet McNamara.
There wasn't much evidence to suggest Tom Cleary's Sweet Annathea (20-1) might win the Crowne Plaza Hotel Race & Stay Handicap, but she got plenty of cover and then weaved through under the trainer's son Rory to score by two and three-quarter lengths.
The trainer-jockey combination came desperately close to a quick double in the second division when the well-supported favourite Sophies Echo went down by a head to Michael Cleere on the Liz Doyle-trained Doonard Prince (9-1).
The Floodlit Friday Nights At Dundalk Handicap went to Niall Madden's Shake The Bucket (100-30 favourite), who led all the way under Luke Dempsey and held off Denny Crane by a comfortable half a length.