Footpad put in a superb round of jumping as he maintained his unbeaten record over fences in the Ryanair Novice Chase at Punchestown.
The brilliant six-year-old had missed Aintree as he was out of sorts, but the Arkle Trophy hero showed he was 100 per cent again by galloping his rivals into the ground.
Daryl Jacob rode the Willie Mullins-trained gelding with great confidence and had the Grade One at his mercy after shrugging his old adversary Petit Mouchoir aside.
Castlegrace Paddy tried to go with the top novice, but Footpad, the 2-5 favourite, left him in his wake. It was left to Dan Skelton’s 25-1 shot Optimus Prime to pick up the pieces and take second place.
Mullins said: “He didn’t run at Aintree as I had to give him a little break. I didn’t dream that he would improve that much. That was some performance, and probably better than Cheltenham, I thought.
“A lot will depend on what connections want to do, but he could easily go out in trip. We have Douvan, Min, Great Field and Un De Sceaux so it’s a nice division we have at home. I don’t think he’ll go to France.
“I thought he jumped much bigger than I’ve ever seen him before. I was wondering if he was losing too much ground in the air, but he just seemed to be so well in himself and he was spring-heeled over everything.
“Daryl said it took him a while to settle and then when he spat it (bridle) out he was push-button stuff from there with his jumping.”
Jacob was equally impressed, saying: “Obviously it’s four Grade Ones he’s achieved this year. He’s been a fantastic horse for (owners) Simon (Munir) and Isaac (Souede) and all credit to Willie again.
“For the first three-quarters of a mile he was very fresh, but once I got him over that he settled into a lovely rhythm. I just relaxed on him and let him go.
“He took his fences on when he wanted to take them on. He’s turning into the real article now.
“It felt today like he’d improved a lot. There are plenty of options for him. He could have a crack at the Champion Chase. You could step him up to the Ryanair or scale three miles for something like the King George.”