Irving (4/6 favourite) was a facile winner of the Sky Bet Dovecote Novices' Hurdle at Kempton to enhance his Cheltenham claims.
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The Paul Nicholls-trained novice boosted his record to four from four over hurdles and he was cut by the sponsors to 4/1 second favourite (from 7s) behind Vautour for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Festival.
Amore Alato took them along but Irving always looked to have his moves covered under a confident Nick Scholfield and the pair took over approaching the last on the bridle.
Despite taking off a tad too early at the final obstacle he scooted clear to record a comfortable five-length success from Amore Alato.
First Mohican disappointed under Robert Thornton.
Scholfield said: "I just thought in the early part of the race he wasn't travelling with the same zest as at Ascot but the ground was quite dead and he'll be much better on better ground.
"He's a very smart animal, we expected him to win this and he has.
"For that ground he has picked up well."
Nicholls said: "He'd like better ground and the faster they go, the better he'll go.
"He can sharpen his jumping up a bit, but I couldn't be more thrilled with him.
"He doesn't need a lot of work, so we can look forward to Cheltenham (Supreme Novices' Hurdle)."
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Sky Bet spokesman Michael Shinners said: "That was a fantastic win for Irving and he looks the real deal heading into the Sky Bet Supreme.
"His potent turn of foot could be the decisive weapon at Cheltenham and he's clearly the top of the tree regarding the English-trained contenders.
"With Vautour leading the Irish challenge, we're all set for a mouthwatering battle for what promises to be a supreme start to the Cheltenham Festival."
*Sky Bet refunded customers who placed losing singles on the race after the favourite obliged to activate their money-back special.