Brave Inca put up a gritty display to deny Harchibald in the bewleyshotels.com December Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown.
Colm Murphy’s seven-year-old swept past long-time leader Newmill on the run to the final flight and stayed on gamely under Tony McCoy.
Harchibald made some degree of headway in the run-in but could not catch the 9-4 chance, who prevailed by three lengths.
Newmill took the field along at a fair pace throughout the two-mile contest and only ran out of steam when Brave Inca, who always had the pacemaker within his sights, picked up the gauntlet.
By contrast, Harchibald – who was sent off the 9-10 favourite -was anchored at the rear and only moved into contention after a fair jump at the penultimate hurdle.
Paul Carberry still had plenty of work to do, however, and it all happened too quickly for the Champion Hurdle runner-up as Murphy’s seven-year-old strode purposefully to the line to score in decisive fashion.
It is now the third time in a row Brave Inca has got the better of Harchibald after he defeated Meade’s six-year-old at Punchestown on his final start last term, and in the Morgiana Hurdle in November.
Brave Inca is 5-1 with VC Bet and 11-2 with Coral for the Smurfit Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.