Dodging Bullets made all the running to land the Opus Energy Novices' Hurdle (Registered As The Sharp Novices' Hurdle) at Cheltenham.
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With none of the jockeys prepared to set the pace early on, Ruby Walsh took the race by the scruff of the neck and dictated a very muddling pace.
All eight runners held a chance turning for home but the 5/4 favourite held them all off up the hill, and despite a bad mistake at the final flight, Paul Nicholls' ace was able to come home in-front.
Nicholls said: "He wants a fast-run race, he stays and this will have done him the world of good.
"He showed last year in the Triumph Hurdle that he's a classy horse but he was just struggling with his breathing.
"We might go for the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day and then come back for the Supreme here - it's a long way off to start planning yet."
Nicky Henderson's River Maigue (4/1) made a strong challenge before the final hurdle but had to settle for second under Barry Geraghty, whilst Evan Williams' Court Minstrel (6/1) stayed on best to take third spot for Paul Moloney.
Fourth home was Nicky Richards' Duke Of Navan, whilst the well-touted Tominator disappointed further down the field.
The winner, who was left unchanged by Sky Bet at 14/1 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle in March, provided Nicholls and Walsh with a quick double following the victory of Shooters Wood in the preceding handicap chase.