Le Richebourg got his Grade One reward over fences at the second attempt when leading home a one-two for trainer Joseph O’Brien in the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown.
Beaten only half a length by Gordon Elliott’s Delta Work in the Drinmore at Fairyhouse after being successful on his first two starts over the bigger obstacles, the JP McManus-owned six-year-old returned to winning ways in style.
Mark Walsh had Le Richebourg (3-1) close to the pace which his stablemate Us And Them helped make, while the 7-4 favourite Mengli Khan was held up towards the rear.
Though he tried to close, Mengli Khan did not have the pace to threaten and Le Richebourg shrugged aside Us And Them to score by four and a half lengths. Voix Du Reve was third, with Mengli Khan only fourth.
O’Brien said: “Mark gave him a lovely ride and he jumped very well. The last day he ran a cracker, but I think the tempo of a two-mile race probably suited him better.
“He was good over hurdles, but probably disappointed us slightly and since he’s gone over fences he’s been very good.
“The obvious thing to do would be to come back here for the Dublin Racing Festival. More than likely he’s an Arkle horse.”
He added: “Us And Them was always going to be better over fences than hurdles. He jumps fantastic and ran a cracker.”
Le Richebourg was given quotes of 12-1 by Betfair and cut from 8-1 from 20-1 with Boylesports for the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham in March.
Rocky Blue dented some big reputations when winning the Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle.
Tom Mullins’ three-year-old arrived off the back of just one run over timber, when beaten by the reopposing Got Trumped, and as a result was sent off a largely-unconsidered 14-1 chance in a deep field.
All 11 runners still held something of a chance jumping the second-last, with the Elliott duo of Chief Justice and Coeur Sublime, along with La Sorelita and Got Trumped, all in there pitching.
In the middle of them, however, David Mullins had still to ask for everything on Rocky Blue.
Racing down to the last in the Grade Two contest it looked between him and Coeur Sublime, but unfortunately the latter took a crashing fall, leaving Rocky Blue to come home three and a quarter lengths in front of Chief Justice, with Got Trumped back in third.
The winner was introduced into the Triumph Hurdle betting at 33-1 by Paddy Power.
“I bought him for 11,000 euro as a yearling (at Goffs) and we always thought he was good, but he took his time to come. He has a good French staying pedigree,” said Mullins.
“He learned a lot in Punchestown, where he only jumped the last two hurdles, and we felt if he jumped adequate he would improve a lot on that.
“He won well on the Flat at Navan and got a right slap from the handicapper. Maybe he’s right, but I haven’t gone back on the Flat because of that.
“Hopefully he holds his form and we can come back here for the Grade One race in February. That’s the obvious target.
“Hopefully the wheels stay on the bus until then.”