Last year's Grand National third Seabass confirmed himself a major contender for this season's renewal of the Aintree spectacular with a tremendous comeback run over hurdles at Fairyhouse.
The Ted Walsh-trained 10-year-old was a heavily supported joint-favourite for the world's most famous steeplechase last April and gave the trainer's daughter Katie Walsh a fantastic spin to be beaten just five lengths.
Making his first appearance since in a two-mile hurdle race, Seabass was hardly going to be seen to best effect but ran on strongly to fill the runner-up spot behind the impressive Rock Critic.
The Willie Mullins-trained Make Your Mark was the 4-6 market leader for the Racegoer's 25 Euros Package Hurdle on the strength of some strong novice form last term, but 9-4 shot Rock Critic was travelling much the better of the pair as they rounded the home turn as one.
Once given his head by Robbie McNamara, the Dermot Weld-trained Rock Critic scooted clear to make it two from two over obstacles by three and three-quarter lengths.
Seabass was predictably outpaced as the front pair swung into the straight, but finished well under Ruby Walsh to grab the runner-up spot from a rather disappointing Make Your Mark.
Walsh senior was delighted with the performance and with Colbert Station also Aintree-bound, the trainer now has two major contenders as he aims to win the race for a second time following the triumph of Papillon in 2000.
Walsh said: "I'm happy with him. He'll run somewhere in three weeks' time. There is the Bobbyjo Chase, the race he won in Naas last year, and also the Racing Plus Chase at Kempton. The plan is to give him another run and then go to Aintree. He has fragile old legs and you wouldn't want to be abusing him."
Stan James clipped Seabass to 16-1 from 20-1 for the John Smith's Grand National at Aintree on April 6, and Rock Critic was cut to 12-1 by the same firm for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
Weld 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. He jumped like a stag."
28 November 2015Plans fluid for Victoria Pendleton point-to-point debut
Thistlecrack too sharp for Long Distance big guns at Newbury
Alan King bowled over by Hennessy hero Smad Place
Wakanda note perfect in Newcastle Rehearsal
Thistlecrack goes the Distance at Newbury
Identity Thief delivers KO blow in Fighting Fifth at Newcastle
Willie Mullins hands Gitane Du Berlais Carlisle assignment
Tea times it right at Newbury for Evan Williams
Micky Hammond on the mark with Caraline at Newcastle
Arctic Fire searching for big-race success in Hatton's Grace Hurdle
Long Dog and Bachasson primed for Royal Bond showdown at Fairyhouse
Former jockey Darren Egan denies stopping horses in BHA corruption case
Simply Wings out to soar at Newbury in Sir Peter O'Sullevan memorial
Bobs Worth back at Newbury in attempt to regain Hennessy crown
Lamar hangs on for fast-track qualifier win at Wolverhampton
Three Musketeers adds name to illustrious Newbury honour roll
Bryan Cooper has a go with Heroes at Fairyhouse
Identity Thief faces acid test in Fighting Fifth
Kasakh Noir puts down early Cheltenham marker with Newbury success
Warren Greatrex backs Cole Harden to go the Distance at Newbury
Harry Fry calls time on Rock On Ruby career due to injury
Willie Mullins says Wicklow Brave is fighting fit for Newcastle date
27 November 2015Doncaster stewards hand out fourteen-day ban for rider John Kington
Funeral details announced for Pat Eddery
Niall McCullagh issues upbeat injury prognosis
Sean Bowen cleared for Newbury return
Ed Dunlop seeking Japan Cup solace with Trip To Paris
Paul Nicholls has Saphir Du Rheu sparkling for Newbury Hennessy bid
Native River leaves owner 'speechless' with Newbury triumph
Sternrubin leads Newbury rivals a merry dance
Ubak out to defy long absence in Newbury highlight
Winning start over fences for Shaneshill at Thurles
Modus 'getting there' in maintaining unbeaten record over hurdles at Newbury
Stuart Edmunds issues Chepstow warning for Wolf Of Windlesham
Charlie Longsdon's Pendra could enter Grand National equation
26 November 2015David Bridgwater raring to go in Hennessy with The Giant Bolster
Sean Bowen stood down after Taunton fall
Marco Botti duo seeking Wolverhampton riches
Native River makes a big splash in Newbury Grade Two
Tom Marquand nominated for BBC award
Winning start over fences for Shaneshill at Thurles
Gunnery Sergeant sights set on Royal Bond outing
Just Cameron pleases Micky Hammond in Wetherby spin
Irving and Top Notch set for Newcastle rematch
Saphir Du Rheu tops 17 runners in Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury
Fire Fighting too good in Wild Flower Stakes at Kempton
Brave Hero makes an impression on Lingfield debut
Charlie Longsdon takes aim at Long Walk Hurdle with Kilcooley
John Constable in the frame for Gerry Feilden honours
Un Temps Pour Tout out to star in hot novice chase at Newbury
O'Faolains Boy will bid to go the Distance at Newbury
Annacotty leads entries for Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham
Colin Bowe 'tempted' by Drinmore run for Shantou Flyer
David Dennis plotting Doctor Phoenix campaign following Haydock verdict
25 November 2015Run Ructions Run makes winning chase debut for Tim Easterby at Wetherby
Goonyella set to bid for Becher compensation at Aintree
Alan King planning hurdles switch with The Unit
Down Royal return possible for Foxhunter hero On The Fringe
Mondialiste aimed at Hong Kong Mile by David O'Meara
Gilgamboa set for John Durkan return at Punchestown
Dan and Harry Skelton hit Lingfield double
Emma Lavelle sets sights on chase campaign for Closing Ceremony
Willie Mullins dominates Royal Bond entries at Fairyhouse
Neil Mulholland thrilled with Fox Norton Cheltenham effort
Emma Lavelle outlines Ascot aim for Junction Fourteen
Arctic Fire in perfect Hatton's Grace 10
Jonjo O'Neill eyeing low-key target for Minella Rocco
Hennessy robbed of star turn as Coneygree misses race
Jonjo O'Neill set to ease Holywell in grade