Pete lands Cheltenham cross country
Outlaw Pete (seen at Punchestown)
(Healy Racing Photos)
The 7/2 chance justified strong market support in the final minutes before the race to score by seven lengths under amateur rider Josh Halley.
However as if often the case in these contests, the race wasn't without its share of drama as favourite Uncle Junior and the well-fancied Arabella Boy both crashed out at the replica Canal Turn when the pair were travelling strongly and looking live contenders.
Bostons Angel (7/1) kept on for second place, just ahead of outsider Leac An Scail.
Paddy Power now make Outlaw Pete and Uncle Junior 6/1 joint favourites for the Cross Country Chase at the Festival in March.
The McManus colours were in the winner's enclosure again little more than half an hour later when At Fishers Cross took the Citipost Handicap Hurdle under AP McCoy, who had made the journey to Cheltenham after riding in the opener at Bangor-on-Dee.
Walkon looks to take the same route as last year’s winner Quantatativeeasing by going one better in the Ironspine Charity Challenge Gold Cup (2.30) at Cheltenham on Saturday after finishing runner-up to Al Ferof in the Paddy Power Gold Cup last month.