Paul Townend timed it to perfection to get Blackstairmountain back to winning ways in the McCarthy Insurance Group Hurdle at Cork.
A Grade One winner over timber as a novice, he also reached the same heights over fences last season but tends to struggle against the best when the mud is flying, so Willie Mullins is now eyeing up a race in Japan.
Fosters Cross made sure it was a real test and Davy Condon was allowed an easy lead in front with his advantage still around 10 lengths turning into the long home straight, but Blackstairmountain (4-7 favourite) collared him on the run-in and held off Arnaud by three-quarters of a length.
Mullins said: "We'll keep it to those type of races with him until the ground gets better. We're going to aim him at the Nakayama Grand Jump in Japan in April. The ground conditions over there will suit him and he's a Grade One horse. He's the only one I have for the race, although it will be costly to send him."
The trainer was also on the mark in the McCarthy Insurance Group Maiden Hurdle with Midnight Oil (evens favourite). With Luca Cumani on the Flat, he had been outclassed in his previous two races but coasted home under Davy Russell.
Mullins said: "We decided to ride him more positively today and he enjoyed it better. He should improve more when the ground is drier. If he does improve on better ground, which I think he will, he'll step back up to Graded company. He's a grand, big, jumping type of horse and the ground is key to him."
The stable made it a treble when Terminal (1-2 favourite) eventually wore down A Fine Young Man in the McCarthy Insurance Group Beginners' Chase.
An almighty touch was landed by Sabrina Harty's Dalasiri in the McCarthy Insurance Group Maiden Hurdle for four-year-olds, the grey having been backed from a morning price of 33-1 into just 9-2 on-course.
Sent to the front four from home by Andrew Lynch, the Aga Khan-bred showed far more than on his previous start at Christmas and sprinted clear to win from Spot The Pro by 11 lengths.
Harty said: "We felt at home that he had a good turn of foot and we dropped him in at Leopardstown. He was just staying on when he made two mistakes. But his jumping is as slick as you get. I ride him myself and schooled him as well. Today was the plan but he should make a nice dual purpose horse."
10 March 2014Judgement day beckons for Fly
Curtis wants Scholfield for Tea
Que takes aim at Festival landmark
Irving strives to rule Supreme
Clouds lined up for RSA
Gold hopes fading for Topper
Champagne in sparkling form
Sire spearheads Queen Mother entry
Ruby ready to Rock
Confidence behind Conor
Special One bids for Champion glory
Suspensory problem sidelines Chris
Mullins 'very happy' with Fly
Cooper raring to go after fall
National glee for supersub Mullins
Francome fancies New One revenge
Quinn targets another Triumph
Buck's primed for World title bid
Cheltenham team monitor ground
Fenton delays Instalment call
Activial to duck Festival mission
Hope springs eternal for Encore
Fab Fly takes on eight in Champion
9 March 2014Fall leaves Cooper 'badly winded'
Cooper warms up with double
Cooper warms up with double
Avenue roads lead to Irish Oaks
Dude's the main man
Top trainers reject watering
Hinterland takes Champion test
Baltimore sets up bonus bid
Warrior wins Trial battle
Fallon hits Meydan heights
Chartreux bounces back to best
Brave Vic has Final word
Soumillon strikes on super Shea
On His Own joins Gold Cup field
8 March 2014Queally hits Sandown target
Briar tops Bartlett contenders
Calipto leads Triumph hopefuls
Ginge fires burn brightly for Neild
Creek forced out of Gold Cup
Milan targeting Final glory
McCoy to miss Sunday and Monday
Exchange rate pays dividend
Temps doubtful for Festival
Conor settles in at Cheltenham
De Bromhead sweet on Special
Epsom to honour St Nick
Mullins dominates JLT entries
Al and Dynaste top Ryanair field
Big two lead World possibles
7 March 2014Lockinge target for Tonto
All set for a super Saturday
Silver aiming to shine
Imperial only thought for Honeyball
Distance fears for Highland
Montiridge preps for Dubai trip
Ayr gets go-ahead
Ayr delay inspection decision
Benbulben misses Cheltenham
Card 'gut wrencher' for Tizzard
Guard stands tall for new record
Faugheen looms over Neptune field
Ballycasey stands firm in RSA
Sire spearheads Queen Mother list
Australia still in Derby shake-up
Henderson perfectly happy with Tent
Regal leads the way in Imperial