Rock Critic was an impressive winner of the Racegoer's 25 Euros Package Hurdle at Fairyhouse as last year's John Smith's Grand National third Seabass made a fine return to action in second place.
The Willie Mullins-trained Make Your Mark was the 4-6 market leader for his seasonal reappearance on the strength of some smart novice form last term, with Dermot Weld's Rock Critic next best at 9-4 after winning on his hurdling bow at last year's Galway Festival.
The two disputed the running, but it was clear before the home turn that Robbie McNamara was travelling far better and Rock Critic eased clear once straightened up for home, safely negotiating the last couple of obstacles to seal victory by three and a quarter lengths to make it two from two over timber.
Ted Walsh's Seabass ran a tremendous race on his first appearance since his superb Aintree performance last spring.
The 10-year-old was predictably outpaced over this two-mile trip, but stayed on strongly in the straight to grab the runner-up spot from a rather disappointing Make Your Mark.
Rock Critic was cut to 12-1 by Stan James for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, but Weld warned he was not a certain starter at Cheltenham.
The trainer said: "He did what I thought he would do. He knows his job and he jumps well. He would much prefer better ground.
"We've no definite plan - we'll speak to the owners. He's entered in Cheltenham but at the moment I see him as a Punchestown/Fairyhouse horse.
"We didn't plan to get there so soon, but his jumping took him there - he jumped like a stag."
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