Willie Mullins hailed Hurricane Fly as back to his very best as recorded his third successive win in the BHP Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in most impressive fashion.
The nine-year-old (1-6 favourite) never came off the bridle in registering his 14th Grade One success, setting himself up perfectly for his bid to regain the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Thousand Stars made it a decent gallop in atrocious weather, but when Ruby Walsh made his move rounding the home turn he soon skipped well clear, before easing over the line with a five-length advantage. His stablemate held Binocular, who travelled well for a long way, by a nose for second.
Mullins said: "He's well used to these conditions and he flies through that ground, so everything went according to plan. We didn't know what One Cool Shabra was going to do, but we weren't going to be hanging around with either horse (Hurricane Fly and Thousand Stars) if there was no pace.
"When you look at the race it was a tip-top race. Binocular has won a Champion Hurdle, Thousand Stars has won two French Champion Hurdles and Captain Cee Bee won a Supreme.
"Everything had gone 100% in his preparation. Ruby said he's as good as he ever saw him. He gave him a squeeze turning off the last bend and said it was just like he had jumped in. He took off like he was on summer ground and I just hope to keep him in that form over the next six or seven weeks.
"I've had faith in him all year and he seems to be in the sort of form he was two years ago."
On Thousand Stars, Mullins added: "He ran a cracker and is coming back to himself - we may keep him for the Aintree Hurdle. They've brought that race back to Thursday this year so the gap between it and Cheltenham is that bit tighter."
Walsh, also delighted with Hurricane Fly's run, told ATR: "I thought it was a very good performance. It was a good, even gallop, he travelled well, he jumped well and he moved away effortlessly from Paul's horse (Thousand Stars). He's probably a fitter horse than last year. Hopefully that will stand him in good stead in March."
The stewards looked into the running and riding of Binocular in third, but the explanations offered by Nicky Henderson and Tony McCoy were accepted.
24 April 2014War saunters to easy success
Quevega five-timer still on course
Wylie trio go for Gold
Cyclone blows into Punchestown
Rain set to help Punchestown
Rifles aimed at York
Dante considered for Arod
Carpenter faces stamina question
Tonto strives for Sandown scalp
Telescope sights fixed on Sandown
Prize lined up for Greffulhe raid
Celebration time for super Sire
Taghrooda swerves Sandown heat
Concorde checks in for Punchestown
No Sandown run for Oscar
Un De Sceaux to skip Punchestown
Treve among stellar Ascot entries
Charline still in Guineas mix
Big guns remain in Guineas frame
Prince in Punchestown frame
Sparrow set for Punchestown spin
Balder to take novice test
Connell eager for Tank chase run
23 April 2014Telescope tops Richards runners
No rush for Annie target
Cosgrave appeal set for Monday
Hughes set for Sandown return
France adds flair to Guineas
Mullins drops Vautour Champion hint
Exciting Bunker given Dante date
Culloty keen on Gold run for Heeled
Hannon triple-handed in Guineas
Resurge revived for Epsom return
Sandown option for Battalion
Johnston pair clash in Derby Trial
Reckless Abandon returns to track
22 April 2014Rizeena delights in Guineas workout
Carberry targets swift return
Williamson escapes serious injury
Rizeena thrills Brittain on gallops
Door bags National glory
Twiston-Davies hits four-timer
Joe suffers shock defeat
Scudamore hits century mark
Ivan lands Fairyhouse prize
Thousand shows star quality
Cirrus set for Treve clash
Houblon heads Gold contenders
Guineas still on Berkshire radar
21 April 2014Door bags National glory
Wilson passes away
Ivan lands Fairyhouse prize
Stepper set for trip drop
Richards in Telescope sights
Ladies geared for Summer repeat
Hill out of Irish National
No Dundeel at Royal Ascot
Clowance up for the Cup
Garner hit with lengthy ban
Memories in Final flourish
Fitz powers home at Fairyhouse
Toner hits target for Elliott
Joe ready for Cork outing
Lennon looking to call tune
Ground holds key to Tonto show
Lucky escape for Cook
Mind called up for National service