No More Heroes raced into the Cheltenham Festival picture as he saw off Shaneshill to land the Navan Novice Hurdle for Gordon Elliott and Barry Geraghty.
Having filled the runner-up spot in last season’s Champion Bumper at Cheltenham before going one better in the equivalent event at Punchestown, Shaneshill was unsurprisingly all the rage for the Grade Two feature following a comfortable victory on his hurdling debut at Fairyhouse last month.
The Willie Mullins-trained 4to 9 favourite hurdled and travelled fluently in the hands of Ruby Walsh, tracking the pacesetting Shantou Flyer and No More Heroes.
Once Shantou Flyer faded, the big two were left to fight it out and there was little to choose between the pair as they jumped the final flight.
Walsh went for everything on the run-in, but 3 to 1 shot No More Heroes saw out the two-and-a-half-mile trip best and came home a length and three-quarters ahead.
Elliott said: “I think he’s a very nice horse. Barry said they didn’t go fast enough for him, and he was a bit guessy at a few of them.
“I’m not sure where he’ll go next and Naas (Grade One Lawlors Hotel Novice Hurdle, January 4th) may come a bit quick for him.
"He's a three-mile horse for Cheltenham and I'd be looking at the Albert Bartlett. He's a real relaxed horse and does everything at his own pace."
Mullins said of Shaneshill: “Gordon’s horse is improving and we got beaten. I’d be hoping for better in the future.”
Lite Duties completed a hat-trick in the lucrative Tara Handicap Hurdle.
Successive victories at Punchestown this season have seen the Charles Byrnes-trained five-year-old raised 23lb in the weights, prior to his latest assignment.
Sent off the 4 to 1 joint-favourite for the €50,000 euro contest, Lite Duties made stealthy headway towards the front end before the home turn and responded to Philip Enright’s urgings in the straight to quicken past admirable mare Jennies Jewel.
The other 4 to 1 joint-favourite, Tony Martin's Dara Tango, emerged as the biggest threat after the final flight, but Lite Duties saw him off by two and three-quarter lengths.
Byrnes said: “I was delighted with the way he stayed on. There were not that many options between now and Christmas and he could go now for a novice between two and a half and three miles.”
Lots Of Memories got off the mark over fences with a dominant display in the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Beginners Chase.
A Grade Three winner over hurdles last season and placed at the highest level at the Punchestown Festival in the spring, Paul Fahey’s charge was the 5 to 2 favourite for his third chasing start.
With Paul Townend in the plate for the first time, Lots Of Memories jumped well, but had Jarry D'Honneur and Fine Rightly for company at the second last.
The latter threatened to make a real race of it for a moment, but Lots Of Memories powered clear on the run to the final fence and galloped 11 lengths clear.
Fahey said: “This was two miles and four furlongs at the original stage (in the racing programme) but I missed the text when it was changed back to two miles and one.
“We said we’d let him take his chance as if we wanted to run at Christmas he needed a prep run. He’s in the Topaz (Grade One, Leopardstown) over three miles, and he’s not done anything to suggest we shouldn’t go there.”
There was drama in the Prancer And Dancer Rated Novice Chase, which went the way of Sizing Coal (7 to 2).
But it might have been different as the John Ryan-trained Draycott Place was at the head of affairs and seemingly going well before running out at the third-last.
Winning trainer Jim Dreaper said: "It was very good for a first round of jumping in that he was able to fiddle a few down the back.
“Things didn’t go the way of John (Ryan) today, but they went right for us, and that’s racing.”
Mullins ended the afternoon with a winner as Bordini got the job done in the concluding "Future Champions" INH Flat Race.
Sent off the 4 to 7 favourite following an impressive bumper debut at Punchestown last month, the four-year-old moved sweetly in the hands of the champion trainer’s son, Patrick, and only Attribution could go with him in the home straight.
Attribution, narrowly denied by the winner’s stable companion Bellshill at Thurles, did his best to make a race of it, but Bordini eventually won the argument fairly comfortably.
Mullins said: “He’s a horse I liked before his first run, and he’s done nothing to disappoint me. He looks a real good horse.
“All going well he’ll go to Cheltenham in March and he’ll probably have one more run before then.”
Jerry Cosgrave's stable star Mount Colah cruised to victory in the Foxrock Handicap Chase under Noel McParlan.
Placed in Poplar Square Chase on his seasonal reappearance before another good effort over hurdles at Thurles, the consistent eight-year-old was a 9 to 1 shot on his return to handicap company and no trouble seeing off Fever Pitch by 11 lengths.