Dual Cheltenham Festival hero Sire Du Berlais made a winning return to action in the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan.
The JP McManus-owned eight-year-old has won the last two renewals of the Pertemps Final at the showpiece meeting in the Cotswolds for Gordon Elliott, but faced a step up in class and a drop in trip for this two-and-a-half-mile Grade Two.
The blinkered 9-2 chance was on the heels of the leaders rounding the home turn and responded to Mark Walsh’s urgings on the run-in to get up and beat long-time leader French Dynamite by half a length.
Matthew Smith’s stable star Ronald Pump was the 9-4 favourite on his first start since filling the runner-up spot in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, and was not completely done with when crashing out at the final obstacle.
Noel Meade’s Sixshooter finished third.
Elliott said: “It was a good performance. Mark said he needed the whole length of the straight to get there – he wants three miles.
“Obviously I’ll have to speak to Frank (Berry, owner’s racing manager) and JP, but I’d imagine the three-mile race in Leopardstown at Christmas would be the place to go with him now. He has no choice really now but to go for a Grade One.
“He’s been a great little horse around the yard. The Stayers’ Hurdle would look the race for him long-term.”
Paddy Power cut Sire Du Berlais to 10-1 from 16-1 for the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham next March.