Diplomat got followers of Dermot Weld and Ruby Walsh off to the perfect start at Galway as the odds-on favourite recorded a comfortable success in the galwaybayhotel.com Novice Hurdle, the opening event of the 2013 festival.
Sent off the 9-10 market leader, the four-year-old – who once beat current Champion Hurdle favourite Our Conor on the Flat – was produced with a double handful by Walsh on jumping the second-last.
Sky Khan finished strongly on the run-in but Walsh had enough in hand to prevail by a relatively cosy length.
Weld, who is in search of a 27th trainers' title at Galway, said the winner was likely to reappear tomorrow, when he hoped the Dr Ronan Lambe-owned gelding would settle better.
Weld, celebrating his 65th birthday, said: “He did it nicely. He was a little bit keener than Ruby would have wanted and as a result probably didn’t win as impressively as we expected.
“I was a little concerned that he was going to tire at some stage.
“We’ll see how he is in the morning and hopefully we’ll run him back. The ground is beautiful and he’s a relatively fresh horse.
“Hopefully we can get him to relax a bit better. He got geed up at the start when a horse bumped into him and it set him alight.
“If we get him settled I believe he can come home a lot better than that. We had the right man on board today.”