Shinrock Paddy confirmed himself an exciting prospect with a runaway win in the Barry & Sandra Kelly Memorial Hurdle at Navan for Paul Nolan and Alain Cawley.
It was a second Grade One win in a week for the pair following Joncol’s success in the John Durkan at Punchestown.
The 7-2 chance joined long-time leader The Hurl four out, travelling strongly, and jumped three from home with a clear advantage.
Rhyl Accord, the 11-10 favourite, was tracking him but Cawley’s mount soon opened up a gap and cruised clear for a 15-length success.
William Hill go 12 from 25s about Shinrock Paddy for the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, while Paddy Power make him 10-1 favourite for the same race.
Paddy Power also quote Shinrock Paddy as 6-1 joint-favourite with Tell Massini for the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham.
Nolan said: “I was a little worried when they were leaving the back straight as ’Squeaky’ (Cawley) was changing his hands on him.
“It was a brave thing of him to kick on approaching the straight but it worked out well.
“The plan was always to come here and he jumped really well today. We will aim for Cheltenham Festival now.
“We’ll either go for the Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle or the Albert Bartlett.”
Cousin Vinny had to settle for minor honours on his fencing debut as Roberto Goldback came out on top in the Larry Rowan Memorial Beginners Chase.
Jessica Harrington’s charge was sent off at 6-4 having fallen five from home in the Drinmore Novice Chase on his latest outing and went to challenge for the lead turning for home.
Cousin Vinny, winner of the 2008 Champion Bumper and placed twice in Grade One company over hurdles, tracked him into the straight under Ruby Walsh and appeared to have his measure jumping the second-last.
The pair took the final obstacle in unison but it was the race-fit Roberto Goldback who got away from it the quicker, running on to score by four lengths.
William Hill left Cousin Vinny unchanged at 20-1 for the Arkle at Cheltenham, with Paddy Power 16s. The latter firm quote Roberto Goldback at 20s for the RSA Chase.
Harrington said: “I thought we were going to go close in the Drinmore before he fell.
“We might miss Christmas now as he’s had three very close races and we had to come back here today because things hadn’t gone right for him.
“I’m thrilled with him and he jumped brilliantly and in time I think he’ll get three miles. Regarding plans we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Noel Meade’s Donnas Palm secured his third successive victory over hurdles in the Grade Two Giltspur Scientific Tara Hurdle.
In a race run at a crawl for almost a circuit, Donnas Palm was sent off at 4-9 to supplement victories at Punchestown and Fairyhouse.
Barry Geraghty settled the five-year-old in second for much of the contest but took over from Scotsirish two out.
The result was in little doubt afterwards as Donnas Palm safely negotiated the last and only had to be pushed out to score by two and a half lengths.
Meade said: “My only concern was that he might not get two and half miles so the slow pace really suited us.
“He’s a good horse, we just don’t know how good he is but he’s up there with Go Native and Muirhead. I’m not too sure where we’ll go next.
“I don’t know what happened to him last year, maybe he did too much racing too quickly.”
There was a shock in the concluding Ladbrokes Cheltenham Bumper Series Future Champions (Pro/Am) Flat Race as 1-3 favourite Tornedo Shay engaged top gear too late to reel in 5-2 chance Drumbaloo, failing by a head.
The race was won last year by budding superstar Dunguib.