Hiddenvalley Lake appreciated the return to hurdles with a smooth success in the Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle at Navan on Sunday.
Trained by Henry De Bromhead, the Robcour-owned seven-year-old won in Grade 3 company as a novice hurdler before finishing midfield in last season's Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Whilst connections may have been exciting for the gelding's chasing debut, he struggled with jumping errors and suffered a heavy fall three-out before Christmas.
Jockey Darragh O'Keeffe was always prominent on the gelding and was travelling easily when taking up the lead approaching the final flight. He was forced to repel the late challenge of the Gordon Elliott-trained Beacon Edge but always had the win in-hand, running out the three-and-a-quarter length victor. Da Capo Glory finished third for trainer Padraig Butler.
Robbie Power, racing manager for Robcour, said: "It was a good performance. The plan was obviously to go chasing with him this year and he fell here in a beginners chase before Christmas.
"It took him a little bit of time to recover after that, and it was getting a bit late in the season, so we thought we'd come back over hurdles and then probably go chasing next season.
"He's done plenty of schooling back over hurdles and Henry's done a lot of work with him. He's a very good jumper of a fence and was just unfortunate the last day.
"He loves heavy ground and Darragh said the further he went, the better he jumped. When they stepped on the pace, he jumped better up the straight.
"We knew he'd stay well over that trip and that ground probably suited him as well. It's great to get that and we'll see where we go next.
"He stays three miles as well and we'll have a look at all the big festivals coming up and see what the options are.
"He's a fresh horse, he's only had the two runs and that's his first completed run this season."