Bob Olinger justified favouritism in the rescheduled Grade One Lawlor's Of Naas Novice Hurdle.
The race was salvaged from the abandoned meeting on Sunday and Bob Olinger's connections will be thankful as the 6/4 favourite ran out a really impressive winner of the two and a half mile contest, eventually beating Willie Mullins' Blue Lord by six and a half lengths.
Trained by Henry De Bromhead and ridden by Rachael Blackmore, the winner jumped sweetly throughout, unlike Ashdale Bob, who departed early on in the contest, and settled well on the heels of the leaders.
Gabynako led the field under Jonathan Moore, tracked by the keen-going Blue Lord, with Bob Olinger back in third, and the order remained largely the same as they jumped three out before turning into the straight.
From that point Blue Lord and Bob Olinger took command and while the pair jumped the second last together, the latter got away best and, having been much the more settled of the two in the early parts of the race, was always seemingly going to see it out best.
He met the final flight on a perfect stride and bounded clear on the run-in for a clear cut success and Betfair and Paddy Power reacted by making him 5/1 from 8/1 for the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March. Sky Bet go 7/2 from 10s.
Their Head of Sports PR Michael Shinners said: "Henry De Bromhead has a very smart horse in Bob Olinger who ran home strongly to win in impressive fashion. We now make him our joint favourite alongside Bravemansgame."
Blackmore said: “He’s always shown us a lot at home and I think today was the stamp of the kind of horse he is for the future. I’m delighted with him.
“I wanted to ride a straightforward enough race on him. He’s a simple horse to ride in that sense and I was happy most of the way.
“He jumped better today in the latter half of the race. The jump is there if you really ask him. He quickened up well and he seems to tick a lot of boxes.”
The leading rider believes Bob Olinger could be an even better horse once he has his attentions switched to the larger obstacles, adding: “I don’t think he’s a real, sharp Champion Hurdle horse in the making. Two and a half (miles) is ideal, but I wouldn’t rule out two either.
“For the future he’s probably going to be one for longer trips. He’s won a point-to-point and looks one for fences in the future.
“I’m delighted for Brian Acheson and Robcour (owners) who are very supportive of the game and to get a Grade One winner is brilliant.”
Energumene cut for Arkle glory
The Willie Mullins-trained Energumene made every yard of the running to take his chasing record to 2-2 at Naas, after which he was cut for the Sporting Life Arkle.
Sent straight to the front by Paul Townend, the seven-year-old - sent off the 10/11 favourite - jumped well in the main, though he did get in fractionally close to the third-last fence.
That gave main market rival Captain Guinness half a chance and the pair had it between them from the turn into the straight, where Energumene kept up the gallop and quite swiftly appeared to have beaten off Henry De Bromhead's horse approaching the last.
He was good and economical at the final fence and only had to be kept up to his work to take the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Novice Chase by eight and a half lengths.
Sky Bet reacted by making him 7/1 (from 16s) for the Cheltenham Festival contest, with Paddy Power even more impressed at 5/1 (Non Runner No Bet).
Sky Bet's Michael Shinners said: "That was a very taking performance from Energumene, who jumped very well to beat the talented Captain Guinness. We were very impressed and have gone 7/1 from 16/1 for the Sporting Life Arkle at Cheltenham."
The winner’s stablemate Blackbow was a long way behind in third.
Mullins said of the winner: “That was very impressive, and his jumping was a key factor. He’s got a great method to jump.
“I brought him back to two miles to see if he would be as effective. He loves jumping.
“That was very testing going, and (he was) making all his own running. Paul just gave him a breather turning for home, and he’s picked up again. I was very taken with it.
“I’d imagine we will go down the two-mile route now, and the Arkle at Leopardstown would look the place to go.”