Both horses came from out of the pack after Highway One O Two had kicked clear turning for home and there were plenty in with chances approaching the last.
However, Bridget Andrews' 33/1 mount, who had been pulled up on quicker ground in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on his previous start, kept responding in these easier conditions and got the verdict in a head-bobber.
Pied Piper, who had finished third in the Triumph Hurdle last year, was making his handicap debut mark off a mark of 154 and only just failed to reel in the winner, having nodded slightly on landing at the last.
The well-supported Filey Bay held every chance but could only finish third, while Sharjah stuck on for fourth, followed by Ballyadam.
Skelton, who won this race previously with Superb Story (2016), Mohaayed (2018) and Ch'tibello (2019), also saddled the favourite, but Pembroke, who had finished runner-up on Trials day in January, was well held after making a couple of minor jumping errors.