Envoi Allen, with Rachael Blackmore on board, laboured on his return to winning ways at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival.
The former star youngster came into the Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase after a poor run at Punchestown earlier this month.
Chacun Pour Soi’s withdrawal meant the Henry de Bromhead-trained horse only faced two rivals in the Grade One race.
The 2-5 favourite was challenged by Gordon Elliott’s Battleoverdoyen before winning by seven and a half lengths.
Envoi Allen was previously trained by County Meath-based Elliott before he received a ban following the circulation of a photograph of him sitting on a dead horse last March. As a result of the incident, owners Cheveley Park Stud moved eight horses to the yards of De Bromhead and Willie Mullins.
Shoulder to shoulder with Battleoverdoyen around the final bend, Envoi Allen, coming down in trip to two miles and one furlong after his disappointing run in the John Durcan Chase, was finally able to shake off the challenger and pull away in the closing stages.
‘We had a bit of a scare’ – Blackmore
However, bookmakers were generally unimpressed with the manner of victory, pushing the winner out in the betting for both the Ryanair Chase and Champion Chase at Cheltenham in March amid the suspicion that a fit Chacun Pour Soi would have clinched a comfortable victory.
“We had a bit of a scare turning in but he put his head down and galloped to the line,” said Blackmore after Envoi Allen’s sixth Grade One win.
“I think Henry was right to step him back (in trip). Obviously with Chacun Pour Soi being out it changed the dynamic of the race, but it’s great to get his head in front.
“He felt good today, they can only beat what they are up against I suppose and I’m happy with him.”
The top two were the only finishers after Sizing Pottsie unseated jockey Sean O’Keeffe.
Chacun Pour Soi was ruled out after being found to be lame on Monday morning as trainer Willie Mullins was denied yet more Grade One success following Ferny Hollow’s triumph on day one of the festival and Tornado Flyer’s surprise victory in the King George VI Chase at Kempton.
Monday’s other big race at Leopardstown saw the Noel Meade-trained School Boy Hours get up in the final couple of strides to clinch victory in the Paddy Power Chase.
Only one favourite had taken victory in the previous 16 runnings of the three mile extended handicap chase and the 12-1 winner, with Sean Flanagan on board, edged out 33-1 shot Ben Dundee by half a length with Enjoy D’Allen [28-1] and Braeside [14-1] completing the top four.
Flanagan, who only recently return to action following a broken back, bided his time after Ben Dundee looked the likely winner after leading at the last.