Burning Victory reached the top in an incident-packed JCB Triumph Hurdle after fugitive leader Goshen grieved when he cleared on the final flight of the inaugural race on the day of the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.
Trained filly Willie Mullins, sent 1/12, seemed reserved for second place when Goshen crossed to a 10-long lead reaching the final hurdle.
But Gary Moore's steady star stepped on the flight and then slipped behind him, depositing a clearly annoying Jamie Moore on the grass and leaving Burning Victory to go claim the award.
Goshen had come to challenge lifelong leader Allmankind down the hill and away from his wobbly rival in the race to the finish … only by disaster to hit the favorite 5/2.
Allmankind (7/2) failed to accelerate again after Goshen's fall and weakened back to third position, being overtaken by another Irish runner Aspire Tower (5/1) for the finalist position as well.
Townend said: "It is not the best way to win a race, but I've been on the other side of it, so I know how it feels."
"We take advantage of whatever luck we have.
"I jumped well the first two, he didn't jump at all in his first race. He has improved a lot with that."
"She fell for a couple around the back, and I couldn't rush her then, I had to let her find her feet again.
"I pulled her down the hill, and she started to pick me up. I was lucky to have a horse in position to pick up the pieces."