Shinrock Paddy made the perfect start to the new campaign with victory in the Tipper Road Hurdle at Naas today.
Sent off third-best in the market in a field of four despite being a Grade One winner, Alain Cawley gave the Paul Nolan-trained six-year-old a patient ride.
Jumping almost upsides to make a line of three two flights out in company with Son Amix and long-time leader Imperial Shabra, the 3-1 chance was always likely to see it out best from there and so it proved.
A solid jump at the last sealed matters and he ground out a perfectly satisfactory length and a quarter success over 5-4 favourite Son Amix.
Beaten just once over timber when pulled up in the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival in March, Shinrock Paddy will now return to Grade One company.
Nolan said: "He's very much a hard horse to get fit. If you remember last year he wasn't impressive at Punchestown before going on to land the Grade One hurdle at Navan.
"We weren't able to get a grass gallop into him, but he worked well on Duninga gallops last week.
"Alain said he gave an awful heave turning in but he picked up again. He's very, very tough and will come on for that.
"We'll go for the Hatton's Grace now and we'll see where we stand after that.
"I'm glad to get him back on track. He'll improve a lot from the run. I'm glad for Barry (Connell, owner) as he was so disappointing at Cheltenham."
Captain Cee Bee was the other big name on the Naas card and he also delivered, putting in a virtually faultless round of jumping in the Poplar Square Chase.
Sent off the 9-10 favourite for the Grade Three event, this was a fair performance as he was giving upwards of 4lb and more to three decent types, including Psycho and Catch Me.
With Tony McCoy in action at Ascot, Mark Walsh was in the plate and stalked Archie Boy until the second-last with his only slight scare coming at the final fence when he was not as fluent as he could have been.
A delighted Walsh said of Eddie Harty's charge: "We went slow enough early on and he jumped brilliantly. We winged three out and two out and I was always happy I was going to win, it was hands and heels really.
"I still don't think you have seen the best of this horse yet. I've never ridden a Champion Chase horse but he feels like one to me."
Harty added: "That's a relief. We expected him to win but he was only just ready to start. This is the first time really since his novice hurdle days we have been able to go where we want first time.
"He jumped well, won well and I couldn't be happier. Mark has ridden an excellent race, he came there when we planned and when the pace quickened he jumped really well I thought.
"There's a few races there for him. The Tingle Creek is an obvious one, there's a race at Leopardstown at Christmas, but we'll play it by ear and let the dust settle.
"I think he'll run in early December, then at Christmas and then have a break before Cheltenham. That's the plan but what races I don't know.
"He is top class so we'll be going for top-class races with him - the Queen Mother Champion Chase looks the long-term target and we're looking forward to it already."