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."
21 October 2014Court to go on Trial
Saviour blow for Skelton
Dan makes chase debut
Moore waits on Grugy decision
O'Neill outlines That choices
Conn possible for Auction bid
Power team weigh up options
Bangor cancel schooling card
No rushing back for Long Run
Dynaste leads Old Roan contenders
Grands Crus retired
Exciting Berlais heads to Chepstow
Force handed Hong Kong mission
Park favourite for Trophy hunt
Al Kazeem team eye Hong Kong trip
Commemorative bound for Breeders'
Slade eyeing victorious swansong
20 October 2014Chelmsford City handed 58 fixtures
Alderwood to take two-mile test
Dynaste leads Old Roan contenders
Hennessy aim for Clouds
Fiesolana on Breeders' trail
High-class possibilities for Trophy
Chelmsford City handed 57 fixtures
French option for Maarek
Billy back for chasing bow
Judge to bid for Breeders' glory
Pipe mulls Moon target
High hopes for Holywell
Judge in Breeders' frame
Hill stars for Stoute and Moore
Gabriel lifts Garnet for Deegan
New One back with a win
Light career hangs in balance
Stars shines on hurdling debut
King big guns ready to start
Tullius camp consider options
Doyle unlikely to appeal Ascot ban
Mullins prepares formidable team
19 October 2014New One breezes to victory
Lavelle has Becher plan for Lodge
Riches heading on road north
Down Royal plan for Tiger
New makes Kempton return
Panther hunting Canadian prize
Sun takes a shine to Cork
Hobbs upholds Showcase record
Another gold strike for Bronze
Gallant Noble a true Champion
Head turns on Charm in QEII
Madame is Ascot leading lady
Forgotten rules for Weld
Byron is poetry in motion
18 October 2014Forgotten rules for Weld
War misses Breeders' date
Rakti reaps Caulfield reward
Chatez bids for Balmoral crown
Lavelle duo top Cheltenham card
Integral takes on the boys
Noble on Champion mission
Belardo a Dewhurst sparkler
Together stands firm for Ballydoyle
Ivawood felled by plucky Thought
Crowley doubles up on Berkshire
Tendon injury sidelines Tent