Commander Of Fleet justified his prohibitive odds in comfortable style to make a winning debut over the smaller obstacles in the Kildare Now Maiden Hurdle at Punchestown.
Winner of the Goffs Land Rover Bumper at the Punchestown Festival in April, the 1-5 shot took to hurdles like an old hand.
Davy Russell was happy to sit close to the pace set by Kalum River, and the pair had the race between them throughout the extended two-and-a-half-mile contest.
Commander Of Fleet was going the better of the two turning for home and the Gordon Elliott-trained four-year-old forged clear in the closing stages to beat Kalum River by six lengths.
Castle Oliver was 13 lengths away in third place.
“That was great and a lovely start,” said Russell of the Gigginstown House Stud-owned four-year-old.
“He’s childish in his ways and these are only just steps along the way. Where he’ll end up, God only knows, but he’s a nice horse today anyway. It was ideal as we went a reasonable gallop and he picked up well off it.”
Regarding trip, Russell added: “He’s versatile, I’d say. Obviously connections have other horses to be thinking of, too. It’s great to have the choice with him.”
It was a double on the card for Elliott following the victory of Ben Dundee.