Hiddenvalley Lake made a successful return to the smaller obstacles in the William Hill Boyne Hurdle at Navan.
Henry de Bromhead’s chestnut had a good reputation as a novice hurdler but did not quite deliver at the highest level when ninth in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham last March.
He started out over fences this time around and contested a beginners chase at this venue in December, where he fell three from home.
Subsequently switched back to hurdling, the seven-year-old always looked happy in the Grade Two event, as he travelled well under Darragh O’Keeffe in the absence of the suspended Rachael Blackmore.
Over the penultimate flight, he already looked the winner and from there he only strengthened his position to triumph by three and a quarter lengths as the 3-1 favourite.
Robbie Power, racing manager to owners Robour, said: “It was a good performance. The plan was obviously to go chasing with him this year and he fell here in a beginners chase before Christmas.
“It took him a little bit of time to recover after that, and it was getting a bit late in the season, so we thought we’d come back over hurdles and then probably go chasing next season.
“He’s done plenty of schooling back over hurdles and Henry’s done a lot of work with him. He’s a very good jumper of a fence and was just unfortunate the last day.
“He loves heavy ground and Darragh said the further he went, the better he jumped. When they stepped on the pace, he jumped better up the straight.
“We knew he’d stay well over that trip and that ground probably suited him as well. It’s great to get that and we’ll see where we go next.
“He stays three miles as well and we’ll have a look at all the big festivals coming up and see what the options are.
“He’s a fresh horse, he’s only had the two runs and that’s his first completed run this season.”
Charles Byrne’s Blazing Khal won the Boyne Hurdle last season before injury halted his campaign in the spring, and the bay returned to action to contest the same race again.
This time, he was pulled up two fences from home by rider Philip Byrnes and was reported to be showing some abnormalities in the post-race veterinary check.
“He’s not right, I think he has a fibrillating heart,” said Byrnes.
“We’ve had a bad rocky road with him, but we’ll see.”