Commander Of Fleet relished the step up in trip and fended off Rhinestone to win the Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors 50,000 Cheltenham Bonus For Stable Staff Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown.
Dropped down to two miles last time out for the Royal Bond, Gordon Elliott’s charge finished last of the four runners.
However, with six furlongs further to travel, and with the last flight omitted because of low sun, he travelled well in the hands of Jack Kennedy.
Turning into the straight, Willie Mullins’ Dorrells Pierji was in front with Rhinestone in between him and the eventual winner.
As Mullins’ runner dropped away, the other two served up a real treat but it was the Gigginstown-owned runner, who drifted out to 13-2, who prevailed by half a length.
Mullins’ Relegate, the Champion Bumper winner, was backed into 4-1 favourite and and one stage looked like tailing off under Ruby Walsh before she stayed on strongly to finish just out of the places.
The winner was cut to 13-2 from 20s for the Albert Bartlett by Betfair.
“It was great. We knew he was a nice horse, but it was a big step on only his third run over hurdles and he was stepping right up in trip,” said Elliott.
“He ran in the Royal Bond over two and we knew he wanted further. He’s a nice horse and a horse for the future.
“He won the Land Rover Bumper, but Jack said he’s still very green. He was out in the middle of the track with no running rail. He was very green, ducking and diving.
“It’s nice to get one on the board early.
“He could go for either the Ballymore or Albert Bartlett. It’ll be two-five or three miles.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if I stepped him up to three miles to be honest. I’d say I will actually.
“Softer ground wouldn’t bother him either. He won a point-to-point and I’d say he’ll be better on softer ground.
“He’s a horse that’s improving all the time and he’s a relentless galloper. There is a lot of improvement in him from today as he’s still very green.
“I told Jack to get into a nice rhythm and don’t panic. It’s as big a field as I can ever remember in a graded race in in Ireland.
“I just told him to get into a rhythm wherever it is, if it’s fourth or fifth or mid-division.”
Kennedy added: “There should be a bit more improvement in him.
“He was very good today. He jumped and travelled great. When you get stuck into him, he stays going.”