Trainer Henry de Bromhead was delighted that Identity Thief's victory in the Grade One Ryanair Stayers' Hurdle justified the decision to move him up in distance to three miles.
The Kayf Tara eight-year-old, who is owned by Ryanair's chief executive Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud, was fourth in the Unibet Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on his last outing. He was a 14/1 shot today under Sean Flanagan, and beat Wholestone by five lengths. The 6/5 favourite, Sam Spinner, finished third.
De Bromhead said: "You have to stay, and we just didn't know whether he did or not. It was Sean's plan, he said he'd love to go three miles, and we said we'd leave him to ride him how he wanted to ride him. Fair play to Sean - it was his suggestion.
"We came here for the two and a half mile race [the Betway Aintree Hurdle, where he finished last of six] here last year and rode him positively, and he was disappointing on the day. And then the way he ran in the Champion Hurdle - he sort of stopped midway and then ran on again really well at the end, so we just hoped that the big step up would suit him, and it has.
"We always thought he was a good horse. He won the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle, and then rather lost his way over fences, so it is great to have him back. And it's a Ryanair race!"
Flanagan, registering his first G1 success in Britain, said: "I was very lucky to ride Identity Thief early in the season and it's great that I've been allowed to stay on him.
"He ran well in the Champion Hurdle and was staying on at the end of the race and I thought he could get three miles.
"He is such a classy horse that he was able to travel nicely and he stayed on well.
"I got a few gaps and he jumped his way there - he did it very easily as he is a very classy horse on his day.
"He rides like a very good horse over three miles."
A memorable Randox Health Grand National Festival for racehorse owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede continued when their Wholestone finished second in the G1 Ryanair Stayers' Hurdle.
The winner, Identity Thief (14/1), who is owned by Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary under his Gigginstown House Stud banner, beat Wholestone (7/2) by five lengths, and there was a further 10 lengths back to third-placed Sam Spinner (6/5f).
After jockey Daryl Jacob had dismounted from Wholestone and briefed the owners, trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said: "He's run superbly, and proved once again to be the best stayer in England, but not Ireland.
"That will be it for this season, and we've not made any plans for next season. He could be a chaser, but we have to discuss it."
The gallant Sam Spinner ran a brave race in defeat when finishing third as 6/5 favourite in the G1 Ryanair Stayers' Hurdle under Joe Colliver.
"He ran another super race," said trainer Jedd O'Keeffe of his stable star. "He jumped really well in the main but was just going up and down on the spot from the second last. But we are third in a Grade 1 and that's not to be sniffed at.
"I think he's had enough for the season and we'll put him away now. He's in at Punchestown but that's only 12 days away so we wouldn't go there. The French Champion Hurdle would be the only option but I think he's had enough.
"Joe (Colliver) said he would jump a fence but he'd be in no rush at the moment. It will be talked about whether we go chasing next season and we'll have to school him - if he can't jump that will make our minds up. He's come a real long way this season and he's a really nice staying hurdler for next year if we don't go over fences."
Colliver added: "He has run well - that is an improvement from Cheltenham.
"He is just a big baby we have hit the front coming along the back and he is just looking around and taking it all in. Once they have come to me we have gone on again, we have quickened up and jumped well.
"The others have just had an extra gear, once we were on our own again he has put his head up and had a look round.
"It is a big learning curve for him, he is only six. He is a high class hurdler and has pleased me."
4.20pm Ryanair Stayers Hurdle (Registered As The Liverpool Hurdle) (Grade 1)
1 IDENTITY THIEF (Gigginstown House Stud) Henry de Bromhead IRE 8-11-07 Sean Flanagan 14/1
2 WHOLESTONE (Simon Munir & Mr Isaac Souede) Nigel Twiston-Davies 7-11-07 Daryl Jacob 7/2
3 SAM SPINNER (Caron & Paul Chapman) Jedd O'Keeffe 6-11-07 Joe Colliver 6/5 Fav
Distances: 5, 10
Tote Win: £10.20 Places: £2.70, £1.40, £1.20 Exacta: £70.30