Gordon Elliott struck gold in the €100,000 BoyleSports Grand National Trial Handicap Chase as a back-to-form Dounikos claimed the big race of the day at Punchestown.
Elliott fielded five runners in his quest to follow up Folsom Blue’s triumph 12 months ago and at the end of this three and a half mile test it was Dounikos which stayed on best of all under Davy Russell.
Wishmoor made a bold bid from the front but coming to the last fence he was being pressed by the Elliott pair of Dounikos and General Principle.
Initially General Principle looked like he might be the one to succeed, but Dounikos was the strongest on the run in as he came four and a half lengths clear.
"Dounikos ran well for a long way at Leopardstown over Christmas, but he was never happy in the Thyestes Chase and ended up falling at the second last," reported Elliott.
"For a big horse he likes that nice ground and he is a horse that will go for the Grand National at Fairyhouse and he could go to Aintree before that.
"He had some very good form as a novice and got a high rating as a result of that, but that's a nice pot today and we're delighted to win it again."
This victory ensured free entry in the BoyleSports Irish Grand National on Easter Monday while Elliott indicated that thethird, General Principle, could be aimed at the Aintree Grand National.