Countrywide Flame captured the scalp of Cinders And Ashes in impressive fashion to land the StanJames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.
The two Cheltenham Festival winners had the race to themselves over the last two flights, and it was the Triumph Hurdle hero who came out on top.
Denis O'Regan always looked confident on the John Quinn-trained 11-4 chance, and he pulled 12 lengths clear of 10-11 favourite Cinders And Ashes to stake an early claim for the Champion Hurdle.
Quinn said: "This year he has improved a stone on the Flat and he had to improve a stone over hurdles to be a real Champion Hurdle horse. Looking at that you'd say he has improved.
"It was great. I enjoyed it immensely, especially when he jumped the last. There's the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and I've also put him in the Istabraq Hurdle at Leopardstown on December 29. That's a possibility.
"Then he'll have another run, then he'll go for the Champion Hurdle. He's gone on every ground and he's looked a good horse on every ground.
"Every trainer needs a good horse and I'm glad for the yard."
Cinders And Ashes' trainer Donald McCain felt the going was the reason for his horse's defeat.
He said: "He was beaten by the ground going past here (winning post) for the first time. What could we do? We couldn't just keep him in his box. If we are looking for the ground then I'll think we'll have to go to Kempton for the Christmas Hurdle. It would be the obvious choice."
23 November 2014McBratney banks on Boy progress
Silvi scraps to Betfair glory
Bally sparkles on Mullins' big day
Kelly's a Fixed Brush hero
Faugheen turns on the style
Fenton banned for three years
Amlin double for fab Ferof
New One excels in Haydock romp
Flyer grounds Ascot rivals
Vasco a cut above opposition
22 November 2014Conti strikes Betfair Chase gold
Taken seeking Listed gold
Mogol facing Monksfield test
Vautour makes chasing bow
Gordon enjoys Dundalk spin
McCoy: Landmark swayed judgment
Jacob warms up with brace
Hill peaking for Troytown return
Billy back on winning track
Walsh back for Ferof ride
New ready for Haydock Rush
Cheltenham is Big aim
Mullins eager for Faugheen run
Cue primed for Betfair defence
21 November 2014Geraghty snapped up for Seuil
Volnay aiming for quick repeat
Argocat camp play it cool
Leading Light retired
Frankel filly breaks Irish record
Linton loses Listed place
Doubles for Pipe and Scudamore
Nasty spill for Insole
McCoy targets midweek return
Farm comes Home to roost at Thurles
Flemenstar future dictated by scan
Cue lined up for Haydock return
20 November 2014McNamara joy at turning pro
Volnay seeking Mersey paradise
Sloane Avenue books Dubai date
Spencer reveals Qatar riding snub
Doyle ready for Godolphin challenge
Good news at Huntingdon
BHA hear Linton case
Avenue shows winning way
Grugy diagnosed with hip issue
Meade plots Monksland comeback
Ptit secures swift double
Shanes shines in hurdles win
Mullins' stars set for weekend runs
Haydock aim for Aurore
Medermit in Betfair contention