Sizing Europe claimed his third win of the season and his seventh Grade One victory in all with another fine display in the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown.
Having considered stepping his stable star up to three miles in either the Lexus Chase or the King George VI Chase at Kempton, trainer Henry de Bromhead decided to stick to the shorter distance of two miles and a furlong due to the prevailing testing conditions.
The 1-3 favourite jumped with his usual verve under Andrew Lynch, but was matched all the way down the back straight by Rubi Light.
Sizing Europe eventually saw off his major rival by two and a half lengths.
Stan James left Sizing Europe unchanged at 7-1 to regain his Queen Mother Champion Chase crown at Cheltenham in March, but De Bromhead suggested the two-mile-five-furlong Ryanair Chase and even the three-and-a-quarter-mile Cheltenham Gold Cup as possible alternatives.
He said: “That was great, we’re very lucky to have him, he makes training a lot easier.
“It’s great to win that race now and we’ll work on from there to Cheltenham. I don’t know what we are going to do yet.
“He could possibly be entered in the three big chases (Gold Cup, Champion Chase and Ryanair) at Cheltenham.
“For me he’s looking far more like a stayer this year so we’ll see, it’s all a long way away yet. We’ll try to get him there first.
“He could go for something like the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park. We’ll have to have a think about it.”
Another horse with Cheltenham aspirations is Jessica Harrington’s Jezki (11-8 favourite) after he annihilated his rivals in the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle.
Stan James make the four-year-old their 6-1 favourite the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Harrington said: “I was absolutely thrilled. He won more impressively there than he did in Fairyhouse, he never even came off the bridle.
“Cheltenham is the plan, we need to get him there in one piece.
“He will probably take in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle on his way there.”
Tony McCoy guided Ted Walsh-trained 5-1 favourite Colbert Station to a clear-cut victory in the Paddy Power Chase.
McCoy said: “I got a very good ride off him. He travelled very well and jumped very well.
“It’s great to ride a winner for the Walshs. I told Ruby’s mother that I wanted to see a picture of me above the fireplace and not him!”
Following on from the success of Anonis on Wednesday, mother and son combination Margaret and Danny Mullins enjoyed a double on the day.
Odds-on favourite Mumbo Jumbo (4-6) won the Paddy Power Maiden Hurdle, while stable companion Cairdin (12-1) made every yard of the running in the Paddy Power Handicap Hurdle.
The winning trainer said: “He (Mumbo Jumbo) was just beaten in Listowel and Barry (Connell, owner) wanted to come back here with him.
“He is a nice horse and it has worked out well.
“We will find a winners-of-one race for him now.
“We put blinkers on Cairdin and it’s great that it came right for him.”
Gordon Elliott’s Flaxen Flare (11-1) made a winning start to his jumping career Paddy Power On Your Mobile 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle, while Noel Meade and Nina Carberry combined to take the concluding bumper with 9-2 chance Mullaghanoe River.