With the result still up for debate – despite Paul Townend seemingly travelling the better on the Wille Mullins-trained favourite – he flung himself at the obstacle and took two lengths out of Gordon Elliott’s charge.
The winner of a valuable handicap at the Punchestown Festival when last seen, the six-year-old was making his reappearance, whereas Alpha Des Obeaux had the benefit of already having a run, although Kemboy was getting 6lb from Elliott’s runner.
Fresh early on, the 11-8 chance never looked in any serious danger, albeit as the five runners turned into the straight none could be ruled out with conviction.
As the front two began to pull clear, though, it was all down to the jumping and Kemboy’s huge final effort made sure he began the season in the best possible fashion, coming clear to win by three lengths.
Mullins will now look to the Ladbrokes Trophy – formerly the Hennessy Gold Cup – at Newbury on December 1 for the Supreme Horse Racing Club-owned gelding.
He said: “I was delighted with him, because I didn’t think he could be that straight and I wondered was I running him too quick before the Ladbrokes. He was very fresh and very free and that was smart to do that today.
“I imagine he goes to the Ladbrokes now and I’m told he has a mandatory 4lb penalty for winning this.”
Explaining why Townend was in the saddle and not Ruby Walsh, who has recently returned from injury, Mullins said: “I had Paul on the two chasers today and Ruby on the hurdlers, that’s all, and with the big weekend ahead that was the only reason.
“Paul was good on this fellow before and I don’t know if there is a queue to ride Camelia De Cotte (in the next)!
“Paul is going well in the championship, too, so I’d be delighted to see him champion again, but who knows, as it’s an open year.”