Hend, beaten in a play-off here last year, toured the Crans-sur-Sierre course in Switzerland with seven birdies and a bogey to sit at 6-under alongside veteran Miguel Angel Jimenez and England’s Tyrell Hatton.
He’s part of a long bombing trio of Australasians inside the top five with New Zealand’s Ryan Fox and Victoria’s Todd Sinnott part of the group just one shot behind and sharing fourth.
Hitting off the 10th, Hend made his intentions clear early with three straight birdies from the 13th. He gave one back at 16 but went to the turn 3-under after a fourth birdie at the 18th.
Three more on the front nine, including at his final hole, sent him to the top of the standings and looking forward to the rest of the week.
“The course is playing a bit different this year so it's nice to come in with a good round before the wind picks up in the afternoon,” he said after signing his card.
“Hopefully another good round tomorrow will put me in position for the weekend. Putting has always been the key to scoring.
“It's always about where you hit your bad shots on this golf course but that's alright.”
Hend said experience is a factor at Crans-sur-Sierre, and after last year’s close call, he was pleased to get off to a good start.
"It was good to get some birdies on the back nine, which was my front nine today,” he said.
“I had to play the hard hole, which was the par-three 16, and made a bogey there.
“It was nice to get some birdies before dropping that shot. It was nice to get off to a good start after coming so close last year.
"I think a lot of experience on this golf course does help. It's a beautiful day today and I heard it will stay beautiful tomorrow too. We will see how it goes."
For Fox, who is making his first start here, it was a case of what might have been.
In the middle of a brilliant rookie season, the 30-year-old went to the turn 3-under with four birdies and a bogey but looked to be slipping off the pace with a double at the par-4 12th.
A run of three straight from the 13th, however, put paid to that and the finishing touches came with a final birdie at the last.
Sinnott, too, made his score on the back nine in a round that featured five birdies and no dropped shots.
Hitting off the 10th, Sinnnott picked up four shots in four holes from the 14th to turn in 31 but the reigning Myanmar Open champion could do no better than par for nine straight holes before a final birdie of the day at his last, the 9th.
It was a good day for the big Australian contingent, former winner Brett Rumford T15 at 3-under while Sam Brazel and Marcus Fraser are both 2-under and T27.
Nathan Holman fired his first sub-par round since the World Super 6 Perth in February with a 1-under 69 to be T42 and the last of the Australians in red figures, Jason Scrivener even par and T58 while Wade Ormsby battled to a 1-over 71 and T81.
Jason Norris, making his first start as a full European Tour member after capturing the Fiji International three weeks ago, struggled with his game and posted a 4-over 74 while Andrew Dodt is near the tail of the field after an ugly 76.
WORLD LONG DRIVE CHAMPION JOE MILLER ON INCREASING DISTANCE:
Want video tips delivered straight to your inbox? Subscribe to iseekgolf.com newsletters.