Vautour maintained his unbeaten record over hurdles when winning the Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hurdle, but his performance was lacking some of the electricity of his previous Cheltenham Festival success.
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Sent off the 1/3 favourite, he travelled nicely enough in front and jumped tidily in the main for Ruby Walsh.
But although he saw off Lieutenant Colonel and Lac Fontana off the home turn, it was outsider-of-four Apache Stronghold who drew into his slipstream approaching the final flight under Paul Carberry.
By now, Walsh was having to get after the leader in order to keep him up to his work, but although Apache Stronghold got to within a couple of lengths, he was never quite able to get on terms with the winner, who ultimately scored by three and a half lengths.
Walsh told At The Races: "The ground was quick enough at Cheltenham and some of our horses are not moving as well this week having run there.
"He lacked the same brilliance, but it's to his credit that he was good enough to win."
Owner Rich Ricci, asked to compare the winner with his Faugheen, such an impressive winner earlier this week, said: "To win when he wasn't at his best, I'm delighted.
"I don't buy that Faugheen is a better horse, maybe he was this week, but we'll go home and sort it all out."
Willie Mullins, trainer of both horses, added: "It's great to get a win. Jessie (Harrington) had no runner so we had a chance!
"That certainly wasn't anything like his Cheltenham form. Someone said two and a half (miles) was maybe too far, but that can't be right knowing what he did earlier in the season.
"Maybe the spectacular run left a mark. I didn't think he was as impressive.
"Having been to Cheltenham and been as impressive as he was, you would have said that today was lovely but we know what he can do.
"He wasn't right at the beginning of the week, he just wasn't 100 per cent so had a few easy days, maybe everything took its toll.
"Ruby said he was a little bit feely and maybe it was a bit firm at Cheltenham for him. These are all things we have to look at.
"It will be interesting to see what the handicapper says, but I wouldn't say it was his best performance.
"The one owner has so many nice novices so we'll try and plan for each division next year. We've a lot of thinking to do."
Mullins and Walsh then doubled up with Arctic Fire (4/5 favourite) in the Star Best For Racing Coverage Novice Hurdle.
The trainer said: "With the conditions of the race he was well in.
"He could be a Galway Hurdle horse and, all being well, that's where could go."
Things got even better for the Mullins team as 100/30 favourite Morning Run, ridden by the trainer's son, Patrick, battled back to get the better of Carrigmoorna Rock by a length and a half in the fillies' bumper.
Patrick Mullins said: "She's tough as nails."