Introduced when the Festival became a four-day meeting, the Festival Trophy provides an intermediate option for chasers between the Champion Chase and Gold Cup.
However, British-based handlers dominated the first 11 races before Willie Mullins masterminded Vautour to be the first Irish-trained winner.
Balko des Flos, 2018
Michael O'Leary, whose airline Ryanair sponsor this race, has enjoyed much success at Cheltenham in his Gigginstown colours – but this was the one he really wanted.
Favourite Un De Sceaux and veteran Cue Card were expected to battle it out but Davy Russell and Balko Des Flos, trained by Henry de Bromhead, stalked them, seizing the lead after the third from last and surging away for a landslide victory.
On O'Leary winning his own race, Russell said: "Isn't that an awful shame? He doesn't lose any money, so fair play to him."
Festival throwback: Relive Irish success in the Marsh Novices' Chase
Un de Sceaux, 2017
Willie Mullins’s charge claimed his second Festival win one year after he was edged out by a flying Sprinter Sacre in the Champion Chase.
Starting favourite, he underlined his Iron Horse reputation with an exuberant display of jumping.
"I was a passenger," said jockey Ruby Walsh. "The jump at the last was special. He's a cracking little horse and he's so consistent, he must be a joy to own, he's a little tiger.”
READ: Un de Sceaux is a horse that owes us nothing and yet still gives everything
Vautour's victory in the Ryanair Chase, his third straight Festival win, was meant to be the springboard to more success - until tragedy intervened.
The legend was still being written when Willie Mullins's charge suffered a freak accident that ended his life aged seven.
"I'll remember those great days, but what's sad for the sport is that we never really got to the bottom of him," said owner Rich Ricci.
READ: Relive Irish success in the Cheltenham Gold Cup
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