Rolling Star mastered Irish Saint close home to make a winning British debut in the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham.
Irish Saint and Ruby Walsh cut out much of the running in the Grade Two contest, but Barry Geraghty shadowed his every move aboard Rolling Star and it was clear heading down the hill the pair were a cut above their rivals.
Walsh's mount still held a narrow advantage approaching the final flight and jumped it the better, but Geraghty had not gone for everything and when he did Rolling Star picked up well to go on and score by two and a quarter lengths. Roc D'Apsis was some 30 lengths further back in third.
The Paul Nicholls-trained Irish Saint was sent off the odds-on favourite on the strength of a runaway victory at Kempton on his first start on these shores, with fellow French recruit Rolling Star next best at 5-2 for Nicky Henderson.
The Seven Barrows handler said: "They are obviously two nice four-year-olds who've come a long way clear of the rest.
"It's only his second run over hurdles and his first for us, so it's good to see him win.
"He was due to go to Ascot (before it was abandoned) and this was the next obvious place to come."
Asked whether he thought Rolling Star was a Triumph Hurdle horse, he said: "I suppose he looks like one."
Paddy Power make Rolling Star their new 6-1 favourite (from 10-1) for the Triumph Hurdle back at Cheltenham in March.
Nicholls said of the runner-up: "The winner is probably a Flat horse and we're more a chaser. I think it would be unlikely he'll run in the Triumph as he's more of a future horse."
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