The New One survived an almighty scare to win the Grade One Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle.
It looked set to be a routine success for the 4/9 favourite as he sauntered to the front approaching the final flight under Sam Twiston-Davies.
However the response once let down off the bridle was hardly electric and the distress signals were soon being sent out.
The front-running Rock On Ruby (10/1) and Diakali both rallied strongly and were closing all the way to the line, forcing a three-way photo finish.
However the judge was quickly able to put favourite backers' minds at rest, confirming The New One had held on by a head with Rock On Ruby taking the forecast spot.
Sam Twiston-Davies said: "He was hit and miss, jumping wise. I didn't quite get into the same rhythm as I did in the Champion Hurdle.
"I was surprised to see two (horses) on my inside at the line.
"He probably had a hard enough race (at Cheltenham) which took off some sparkle, but you can't underestimate how good a performance that was. He's a classy horse."
Nigel Twiston-Davies, the winning trainer and the father of the successful jockey, said: "You have to say he wasn't impressive, was he?
"You have a horse like that and you want him to be the best ever and win four Champion Hurdles. We're too bloody greedy really.
"It's obvious he's the best horse we've ever had and the one we have been looking for. He is definitely better at two miles than two and a half though."
Looking back to Cheltenham where The New One finished a most unlucky third when hampered by the early fall of Our Conor, he added: "Everything is laid out for the race next year.
"Maybe he should have won, maybe he shouldn't. That's what life's about and in racing that means one horse galloping around a field faster than the others. We had other problems, but he wasn't able to prove himself.
"He gained eight lengths from the last but how many did he lose?"
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Sky Bet left The New One unchanged at 5/1 for next year's Stan James Champion Hurdle, spokesman Michael Shinners saying: "He made hard work of beating Rock On Ruby, howeve perhaps after a hard season he can be forgiven for this and looks a big player for next year's Champion Hurdle."
McCoy was found to have used his whip above the permitted level aboard Diakali by the stewards and was handed a four-day suspension (April 17 and 19-21 inclusive), meaning he misses the Irish Grand National meeting at Fairyhouse.
Harry Fry was delighted with Rock On Ruby's performance and appears to have opted against resuming the horse's steeplechasing career.
"He tries all day and is a very, very good hurdler," he said. "Noel said to stick to two miles over hurdles next year. He will be a year older but on that run why not try for the Champion Hurdle?"
Of Diakali, Willie Mullins commented: "When he learns to settle, he will be better again. We will look at Punchestown for him now."